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Attending A Desegregated High School in the Rural South

Updated on June 24, 2019

From 1983 to 1987, I attended a high school that was desegregated since 1969. However, the school was in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Emmitt Till was actually lynched in that area. When I was a freshman, the principal had been there for fourteen years. As a freshman, I was told by a African American Tittle I math teacher, that I needed to make friends with my own kind. In other words, she was telling me to " stay in my place" or be subservient to the Caucasian power structure. However, I felt that many of the African American faculty were hypocritical and told them that to their faces. This did not endear me to them. In fact, the same teacher told me that if I thought I was better than the other African Americans, then tell my father to send me to the predominately Caucasian private academy.

When I was a senior in 1986-1987, I had a Caucasian teacher who taught me Government and Economics. To me, he did not like African Americans, unless you were an athlete. He patronized the Caucasian students, especially the country club set. The man tried to fail me in Economics, of which I had requested that my schedule be changed. The principal at the time did not change the schedule but told him to make the class easy.

On the other hand, a majority of the Caucasian teachers liked me because both of my parents taught at a local historically African American University; my father was Jamaican. To indicate, many of them wrote my college recommendations. Another teacher helped prepare me to take my ACT math segment.

With the African American faculty, I was on cordial terms because I felt most of them did not teach me anything. The one African American teacher that I respected did encouraged me to attend Clark Atlanta University. As a result, I became an educator because of him. The assistant principal, who was just a token, tried to suspend me in order to teach me a lesson; the guidance counselor felt that I needed to go to junior college in order to adjust my attitude.

In discussing the dual system, awards and honors were done on racial lines. To state, there were segregated proms, of which I boycotted the dual system. When we had our Senior Pajama Party, I was called in by the assistant principal for taking pictures with Caucasian females, which resulted in him calling my parents. My parents told him to leave me alone or the superintendent would be notified.

Three weeks before graduation, five seniors vandalized the high school because of the fact that they did not earn athletic awards because of race. These students were indefintely suspended, of which they were not allowed to graduate with the class until summer school. The Caucasian community wanted them thrown in jail, while our community wanted to give them leniency. As a result, they were given probation and had to pay restitution. Most of them had scholarships to play ball.

To conclude, our class is the only one to have " separate but equal" reunions because the Caucasian class are actually holding grudges against those five seniors. I did have a mixed experience at this school, of which I had Caucasian friends. I was not really friends with most of the African Americans. Finally, we were brought up on the plantation mentality.

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