Home2011February (Page 2)

by Angela Green The Supreme Court law integrating schools for whites and blacks passed before I was born, but it wasn’t until I moved to South Carolina in the summer of 1969 that I sat in a classroom with black children. As a third-grader, I was unaware of the political hailstorms that had assailed our country the previous fifteen years. I was sent to school with simple instructions to obey my teacher. Although I can’t recall specifics, I have hazy memories of bullies picking on the black children on the playground. This remembrance exists, I think, not because the confrontations were so horrific, but because of approving smiles from my parents when I told them that I stopped other white children from being mean or making “ugly” remarks to the newest children in our ranks. In my family, friendship with black neighbors was accepted. We lived in a small community. My brothers and I all played on integrated school sports teams. We had always been taught to treat everyone with kindness and respect regardless of their color. Even with all of this “treat everyone equally” rhetoric, there was, however, one underlying understanding within the family: the daughter can be friends, but she cannot date the

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by Julie M. Stephenson “Where are you from?” It was a normal question, but a question I dreaded nevertheless. I didn’t like to lie. “Sumter,” I answered. My new fourth grade classmate smiled, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. You can sit by me at lunch today.” Technically, I hadn’t lied. I was born in Sumter. I lived there until Daddy took Mamma and me home from the hospital. After that, I lived in Lamar, and I certainly couldn’t tell anyone that. Lamar, a tiny town in Darlington County, South Carolina, surrounded by cotton and tobacco fields, had been the greatest place on earth. One of my favorite places was school. Red-bricked Lamar Elementary for grades 1-6 was connected to a matching Lamar High School by a cement breezeway. I had been walking those gray-green halls for as long as I could remember. Mamma was the kindergarten teacher, so I went to kindergarten when I was three, four, and five. Daddy was the high school principal, so after school I could walk over and see him. His sturdy rectangle of a desk was where, to my later dismay, I carefully printed, “Form, Julie” on twenty-eight of thirty cartooned Valentines. On the way to

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