By: Dr. Jacquelyn Simmons
My friends, this child of God, having been blessed to live almost a century, finds my decision debatable as to whether African Americans are better off due to so-called integration. It appears to me that we have lost educationally, financially, and many other debatable instances more than we have gained. Even though we are “allowed” to sit in front of buses and attend “still” segregated schools, we have lost more than we have gained.
My first cousin, the late African American Gregory Hobson, also first principal of Burg Jones Elementary School, located here in South Monroe, expressed to me, his trepidations as to whether the conditions of our race had improved as a result of “so-called “integration”. He said, “Tena”, one of my nicknames, “I do not know what many of our children need, but integration does not appear to be on the list.
That was a very harsh statement to accept, but, as my grandfather, Jack Hilton, often said to us during what seemed to be a debatable issue, “ just live on”. Gregorywas correct as we discovered at the beginning of the sooooo-called integration process. We immediately lost many freedoms that our foreparents had fought for…
I thought Gregory’s statement labeled him as an “Uncle Tom”, but riding in front of buses, and eating while sitting in non-segregated restaurants has caused us losses of African American restaurants, groceries, clothing stores, service station, cleaners, etc. But, to this writer, one of our greatest losses was the control of our schools. No one that I know, is pleased with our school systems which has resulted in our children’s education which appears to have gone backwards and obviously inferior in most important areas. Many of our children from Pre-K have been forced on a path to follow educational tracks which only prepares them for servile positions after graduation-if they are allowed to graduate. It reminds me of the old adage which states, African Americans will only be allowed to appear into the land of milk and honey except as servants to milk cows and gather honey.
Now, for a brief explanation of our subject for this article:
Many of us dreaded Mr. Henry Carroll’s, first principal of Carroll High School’s auditorium “chats” he held at least once a week. To me, they interrupted the “flow” of our classroom activities. However, now I understand, they were precious gifts given to our students and faculty members. During that same time frame, we here in Monroe, LA were nervous about the impending “so-called” integration of schools with an accent on the term “so-called” integration of schools.
One particular day, in fact, during our last assembly at Carroll High School as students and faculty members, a white man sat on the stage with Mr Carroll. We were all suffering great trepidation over the impending “so-called” integration of schools. During the white man’s very brief message, he said, “Y’all stay here where y’all belong.” As a result of his message, my shoulders and head “braced upward”, and by God’s grace and mercy, prepared myself for whatever his future held for all of us. He has always been with me, and has not brought me this far to leave me now…