Ron’s Time Tunnel: This Land is Your Land

this-land
Picture taken by R. Brown at Panama City Beach, FL

In the year 1970, the “black” and “white” schools of Randolph County integrated. The conclusion of that school year marked three memorable moments for me. First, I had to leave the nurturing instruction, provided by my favorite teacher of all times, Ms. Dorothy Marlin.  Secondly, I was going from the third to the fourth grade and last but not least, 1970 was the last year that my class would be populated by black kids only. The white kids were coming to our school in the fall.

The state of Georgia and Randolph County were not exactly “chomping at the bit” to integrate their schools. The Supreme Court had actually declared that “Separate but Equal” was a “flawed standard” and called for desegregation with the “Brown-v-The Board of Education” case in 1954. Then the Supreme Court had to further prod the prodigious asses of the ponderous system of segregation by stating, in 1955; “’Hey guys let’s get this done with ‘ALL DELIBERATE SPEED ’”. The Supreme Court had to intervene, once again, with the Civil Rights act of 1968 before much got done. Then in 1970, sixteen years after the landmark “Brown-v-The Board of Education” decision, integration trickled into Randolph County Schools.

Here, in retrospect, is what I find remarkable about the whole process; all of the Black kids were required to attend Summer School that summer. This action was based on the assumption, by the “powers that be”, that the White kids were, academically, more advanced than the Black kids; who would therefore need that summer to “catch up” with the White kids; so as not impede their learning process.

Whether or not the White kids were smarter than we were, I had no idea; but what I did know was that the books we used were provided, second-hand, from the neighboring “white” school. So, if having the newer edition of the textbook was a portent of academic excellence, then the White kids had that in spades. Every “new” textbook I received, during those years, already had several names of previous users on the inside cover. I would often daydream about just what little “Robert Winslow Brent” looked like; how he spoke; what he did after school; what games he played or what toys he got for Christmas.

So we spent that summer learning to play “new” games; reading “new” books and getting used to White teachers. When fall arrived, bringing with it a new season called integration, I discovered the following things: White kids were no more or less smart than their Black counterparts; some of them were brilliant and some were academically challenged; some of them were boisterous and some were shy; some of them were nice and others were not so nice. Basically, I learned that besides being “White” they were no different than us Black kids. And! I learned that Robert was called “Bob” for short.

One other thing I learned was the following song by Woody Guthrie; taught to us by those benevolent White teachers that came to “enlighten” us that summer:

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND

This land is your land. This land is my land.

From California to the New York island;

From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,

I saw above me that endless skyway:

I saw below me that golden valley:

This land was made for you and me.

19 thoughts on “Ron’s Time Tunnel: This Land is Your Land

  1. Tareau Barron

    I felt like I was there reading your post Ron. Even though that’s before my time Lady G, made me realize how the imagery of America is never a colorful imagery when talking about history. Stars and Bars is a deep statement and a very telling tale. It’s great that as a young child, the only difference you noticed was skin color. Excellent post, Bravo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, thanks Tareau! I’ve heard it said that “no one is born prejudiced, it’s learned behavior”.

      There are too many good things that we could be teaching our children about the world.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much Ron for this insight into your past.
    I just don’t ‘get’ that mindset, no matter how much US history I read. It’s one big stain.

    (Warning: Sarcasm Forecast. Storm imminent.)
    Now over here, yes we have our intolerant ‘lower class’ bigots and ‘they are shocking’.
    But….
    In the UK we can dress up our intolerances by pretending how horrified we are at others perceived into intolerances. So every Jew becomes a Zionist. Every Christian is a fundamentalist, homophobe. Every Muslim is a potential terrorist. Every immigrant is ‘taking’ some native’s job. Oh yeh, and anything that goes wrong in the world is the fault of the US; if Russia does anything questionable it is all the fault of the US (go figure). Thus someone can hide their prejudices be pretending to be an impassioned, concerned, radical, liberal, free-thinker.
    OK, I’m finished ranting…
    For the present..
    All the best Ron
    (Still catching up)
    Roger

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Really? It took them that long to get the memo? Not surprising. That is something that the history books neglect to mention. At least in my day they didn’t. We just assumed after Brown v Education that things were implemented tout de suite. That was the problem, assuming….. I was reading Lady G’s comments about the stars and bars. What is frightening to me is that I grew up in PA about an hour from Baltimore and 1.5 hours from Philly and you could see that flag on some of the houses in the country. Which didn’t really surprise me considering the oh so tolerant folk that lived around there. Enlightening read, Ron. Every time I read your blog I am educated and thankful for it! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Just what in the world does “All Deliberate Speed” mean? How ’bout using a more specific deadline like, “Before the sun sets today!” LOL!

    My class cohort was one of the first classes to actually go to school all the way through from kIndergarten to 12th grade as a fully integrated group,

    Oh but they tried all kinds of stuff to prevent it. They gerrymandered school zones like a mug!
    Many of the white families that could afford it sent their children to private school.

    When I was young, our neighborhood was majority white. We had a lot of college professors and medical residents living up the street. Most of them were either too old or too young to have kids so it was a non-issue to them.

    I hadn’t thought about “This land is your land” in a long time. We sang it a lot though….THE IRONY…LOL!

    That said, I do remember having to pledge allegiance to the Georgia Flag—yes, I’m talking about the one with the CONFEDERATE stars and bars that was specifically adopted (circa 1956) by the state in direct de facto protest to the success of Brown v The Board of Education.

    Prior to that, Georgia had a perfectly neutral and nice flag! We were stuck with stars and bars until Gov. Roy Barnes remedied that little situation.

    Sadly, the dear Governor fell out of sight after his term ended. To say that he is STILL unpopular with a lot of white folks would be an understatement.
    Some folks had no idea that the stars and bars flag was NOT Georgia’s original flag. They thought that thing went all the way back into antiquity. LOL!!!!

    Sorry, you got a Political Science major started 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m one of those who thought that “it” (old stars and bars) was ALWAYS the rag, I mean flag of GA. I remember it hanging just below “Old Glory” on the flagpole outside of my school from the time I was a tiny tot.

      The “Stars and Bars” can still be seen flying on private residences, on vehicle stickers, tags, t-shirts and all manner of media, “down here”.

      And, I agree with you about “All deliberate speed”; it meant absolutely nothing to those who were hell bent on keeping things status quo.

      I’ve dealt with the Fed and State governments for most of my life, and I’ve discovered that statements like the one issued by the USSC back then, are of the ilk preferred by those entities.

      We have one in EMS state regs that says, “A reasonable distance”, What the heck is a “reasonable distance”?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know right?
        Yeah baby! If they could have gotten away with it they would have put it ABOVE the US flag. Some of them probably did.
        Yes, you can still see ‘stars and bars’ hanging around on display by people who live in their own idyllic past.
        Oh and don’t you just love vague phrasing like ‘reasonable distance.’
        I call bullshit.

        Liked by 2 people

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