The education system in America has always been something I have been intrigued about. Where my friends went to school versus where I went to school was always somewhere different, but it became the norm. In my hometown there are three districts that are used to separate the various children in two sister cities. It just so happens that my parent decided from Kindergarten that they wanted to enroll me in a private school education rather than public. As I grew up, unfamiliar adults and other kids would ask me where I went to school, and I was proud to say a private school because I held it with a different amount of respect then the surrounding schools. Growing up in a private school from Kindergarten to Eighth grade allowed me to incorporate Christianity in school, instead of barely being able to touch the surface in public schooling. Being at a private school allowed me to gain a great education, take Spanish since Kindergarten, and being a smaller classroom setting than my friends, but it came with a price. Even though I went to this private school there were numerous occasions when I felt alone due to the color of my skin. I, along with around 10 other black children, were they only ones represented at our school, which held around 200 people. I felt alone. Being in a smaller setting allowed for us to really get to know each other, but most of them were not interested in having a black kid come over, or hang out after school. I became accustomed to hearing, “Why do you sound so white? Why don’t you talk ghetto? Are you really black? Why don’t you eat fried chicken? You’re not really black.” Hearing these questions became the norm for me because these unaccustomed white children had been raised to believe, whether it came from their parents or simply turning on the television, that all black people were a certain way, yet I was different. This story is very similar to our experience today in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Today I woke up excited because I knew that our group was going to be heading to see the school that changed it all. I was going to be able to see where integrating schools started and I could not wait. When we arrived to the historical site I become very quiet, almost as if the excitement that so joyously filled my body had been knocked away in a blink of an eye. Instantly I started to feel bittersweet because in a few minutes I was going to be standing in the same spot where nine courageous black students decided to be heroes amongst their peers and the rest of the world. Before we arrived at the school we were guided into a movie room where we watched a small clip about the history of Little Rock Central and how it became integrated. I learned that the Governor of Arkansas ordered for the guards to permit these nine students from entering the school at all costs, even though federal law allowed it. I also learned that there was a judge who played an integral role in overturning the Governors order, eventually allowing these nine students to attend Little Rock Central High School. Arriving at the school took my breath away because we were in the same location where so much brutality took place just because those nine students wanted to make a difference, even though the whites did not agree. Although my story is drastically different than the nine students who endured this horrible treatment, I now have a greater appreciation for them and my education. I know that my ability to go to an integrated university was because these individuals had the courage to take that first step and I am forever grateful.