The Truth of High School
Y’all wanna see the truth of what I looked like in high school? It’s a hoot. And now it’s out there for everyone to peep at.
Why, you might ask? Well, I wrote an essay about my odd junior high and high school experience in the land of the integrating South.
Journalist Ellen Ann Fentress was kind enough to publish the essay on her Admissions Project site. The title of the site has two meanings. Admissions, as in school. But also as in confession.
The important site collects the stories of those who went to segregation academies in the South, as well as those who attended public schools. I fell into the latter. My story is unique in that my experience spanned two major events in 1970s integration. The Supreme Court’s order for Jackson, Mississippi, schools to integrate. Then, six months later, America’s first court order for Charlotte, North Carolina, kids to get on the bus and ride.
Click over to the Admissions Project and read my essay exploring the truth of high school: I Never Saw the System. I’m so proud to be included with essays by Ralph Eubanks, Katrina Byrd, Lynn Watkins, and so many others.
While you’re there, laugh at my school photo. 🙂
p.s In The Sentences that Create us, Caits Meissner notes how the included essays “talk to one another on the page.” The essays in @StoriesAcademy do the same thing. The collecting of these stories in one place is crucial because no one story tells the whole truth. So read a few while you’re there.
p.p.s. Another quote from The Sentences that Create Us: “Every story needs hope,” which is also the title of the essay by Derek R. Trumbo, Sr. Read to the last paragraph of my essay and tell me what you think.
Admissions Project, busing in Charlotte North Carolina, integrating the South, Myers Park High School, truth of high school, when Charlotte integrated its schools
Marsha Van Hecke
A stunning and evocative piece of writing. Deep sigh. – Marsha
Ellen Morris Prewitt
Thank you, Marsha. I’ve been carrying that essay around for a while, and I’m grateful to Ellen Ann for publishing it. I was shocked when I learned Swann had been voided. And even more so to learn of Charlotte’s re-segregation…
Thank you for sharing your story, Ellen. Your school years and mine were so different. North/South, small-town/city, your being part of integration (however haphazard) and my being in a place with only a tiny number of people of color because there was no good reason to move there as the old mills closed and jobs moved south. I remember seeing news stories about bussing for integration but for us bussing twenty miles each way every day was the only way to get from our town of 200 to the high school in North Adams.
Ellen Morris Prewitt
Yes, so different, Joanne (town of 200!). In Jackson, we never took the bus, as we walked to the neighborhood elementary school, which I loved–meeting friends on the corner and walking the rest of the way together–but white kids who went to elementary school with me absolutely rode the bus from other parts of town. Only when the buses began to take white kids to historically Black schools did ‘busing’ become a bad word. Different childhoods, but we’ve come to share concerns about so many issues.
You were a cutie, so shut up now. 🙂
It’s so hard for me to imagine growing up during that time in the south. I remember watching Ruby Bridges (who was one year older than me) with my mom when I was a kid. How anyone could watch her and not feel for her, I just don’t know. But I didn’t get indoctrinated like your ex-friends did. When I was a kid Kalamazoo was pretty segregated, though. I think you’ve inspired me to write something . . . .
Ellen Morris Prewitt
But that hair! 🙂 I can’t believe you watched Ruby Bridges. I’ve come to admire her so much as I learn more of her New Orleans story. White parents wanting to ban her book in schools because it might make their children “uncomfortable,” when that little girl walked a hate brigade to spend a year in a classroom by herself, they should be ashamed. What they’re probably afraid of is their kids will identify with brave Ruby, not the hate-filled white crowd.
One thing I learned as I grew up was that some of my friends didn’t want to attend the schools they were sent to, actually despised them. Others were fine with their new “schools.” As I was with my white classes. Can’t wait to read what you might write!