The sounds of chatter and roaring bus engines once more fill my street.
School has officially started.
Most kids have been dreading this moment for weeks. Many parents are ecstatic and feel that it couldn’t come any sooner.
but Life goes on.
The first day of school. Remember what that was like?
Making new friends. Getting to see old ones. Observing the changes. Feeling a little bit older or not. The jitters.
I can’t imagine how Dorothy Counts must have felt. It’s been 50 years since the integration of 4 black students into the city schools of Charlotte. Three made it to school and back rather peacefully. The fourth one really made news. The story of Dorothy Counts and the pictures of her experience that day reveal so much about ourselves and the complexities of a diverse United States. After enduring 3 days of being taunted, spat upon, and harassed by fellow white classmates her father thought it would be best for her to withdraw from school. He issued a striking statement.
“It is with compassion for our native land and love for our daughter Dorothy that we withdraw her as a student at Harding High School. As long as we felt she could be protected from bodily injury and insults within the school’s walls and upon the school premises, we were willing to grant her desire to study at Harding.
“Contrary to this optimistic view, her experiences at school on Wednesday disillusioned our faith and left us no alternative.
“In enrolling Dorothy in Harding High School, we sought for her the highest in educational experience that this tax supported school had to offer a young American. Yet, when a continuous stream of abuses undermines this objective our purposes are nullified and the effects are damaging to ethical and religious training.
“Needless to say that we regret the necessity which makes the withdrawal expedient. This step, taken for security and happiness, records in our history a page which no true American can read with pride.
“Dorothy has received communications from hundreds of Americans and from at least a dozen foreign countries since her first day at Harding High School. This indicates that this historic event will be read simultaneously in England, Holland, Korea and Charlotte — reflecting credit or discredit to the individual’s understanding of and attitude toward American democracy.
“In view of this fact, we wish to express our most sincere gratitude to the many friends of democracy and Christianity in America and abroad, for their understanding and appreciation for our daughter’s modest efforts to enjoy full citizenship in the country which we all love.
“The true heart of America and the faith in human rights expressed by telegrams, telephone calls, local police power, and letters from friends in America and in foreign countries comfort us and strengthen our belief that our cause is just and ultimately must win.”
– The Counts Family
These pictures say so much. Somehow it still all looks so familiar.
It’s only been 50 years and under the same breath, it’s been 50 years.