When I was a little girl, my father would take me to the old Sears Department Store in Greenville. He loved to look at the tools, and since it was a time when kids could wander around without supervision, I would curiously roam the aisles. I remember vividly that there were two water fountains, both with steps leading up so that children could drink from them. One was marked “COLORED,” and the other “WHITE.” I thought the “colored” water fountain meant that it dispensed water with pretty colors—pink or purple or green. I didn’t understand the racial connotation. It was just a water fountain.
Today, it hurts my heart to think about this memory. It hurts my heart that we separated people, that people—all of us human—were split into two water fountains. It hurts my heart that children are born without prejudice, without hate, yet as adults we see racism everyday. Something happens along the way and we somehow snuff out their innocence. I wasn’t special—I was just a kid. Kids don’t see “colored” as racially charged. Their instincts are pure. And so I wonder: why can’t we live in a place that encourages the best in our children?
To me, the place to start, other than in every parent’s heart and home, is in our schools. That’s why our public schools are so important. That’s where we must remind every child about respect and dignity and equality. After all, they are born with those qualities in their hearts.
Until next time,