Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al (1954)

“We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Opinion of the court delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

When Mrs Evans asked us to write about our weekend for show and tell, I wasn’t sure that I’d have anything interesting to say. You see, I usually spend my weekends helping my mother clean the house, doing my homework and going to church with my parents. That’s nowhere near as fun as all the adventures I hear you guys talk about on Monday mornings.

This weekend was different though. This weekend was the first time I’d seen my daddy’s bright white smile since I’d said that I wanted to be President when I grew up. It was the first time my mother had cried happy tears since, well ever. This was the first time that I’d felt hope inside my little home.

Saturday and Sunday morning were the same as always. I cleaned, I studied, I prayed. At church I could tell that the grown folks were excited about something, but my mother always tells me not to ask about ‘adult business’ so I didn’t pry. I stood around quietly in my pretty lilac dress with matching shoes and gloves, as the hot sun threatened to ruin my curls and waited for my parents to finish their conversation. Every now and again I’d catch a word that I didn’t quite understand, like “desegregation” or “Supreme Court”. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about but, everyone seemed very proud of a little girl called Linda Brown. This made me a little mad! I mean didn’t they see me standing there? I was being quiet and I thought that I looked cute. Yet they were more interested in a girl I’d never heard of. It didn’t even sound like she went to our church.

Later that day, when we finally arrived home and changed out of our Sunday best, my father called me into our living room. That’s when I saw that smile I told you about earlier. Even his eyes were glistening with happiness, an emotion my daddy rarely shows. He lifted me up onto his knee and told me to listen carefully to the radio. Again I heard words that I didn’t understand and the names of people I didn’t know. The newsreader kept on saying that the decision was “groundbreaking” and that black children in the South had been given “hope”. Then I heard her name again and I felt jealousy rising inside me, as they said Linda was “brave” and how “proud” we should be.

As I fought the urge to return to my room so that I didn’t have to hear them talk about her anymore, I turned to my daddy and asked him what this all meant. “It means that you can go to any school or college you want. It means you can do or be anything in the world. It means you can be President one day.” Then, with that bright wide smile still on his face, he picked me up and swung me around like he used to do when I was a baby. My mother watched in the doorway, crying those happy tears that I’d never seen before.

Now we can go to school with other white children without having to admire their pretty playgrounds from a distance. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had any white friends before. I’ve never even spoken to someone who isn’t black. But my daddy says that this means that I can be President, so whoever you are Linda Brown thank you for making my dream possible. Even if it does mean that you took all the attention away from my very pretty dress.

A black girl’s school project.

By Shaurna Cameron

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