Last Updated September 5, 2023.
"Do you feel like you have anything to atone for?" I asked.
"Not a damn thing, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "We were taking care of our children." (10)
Green interviews Robert E. Taylor, whose family is very close to her family in Farmville, Virginia. Taylor is in his late 80s, and he played a vital role in opening the white private school, Prince Edward Academy, which Green, her parents, and her siblings attended. Even many years later, Taylor defends his actions and justifies what he did by stating that his children needed a place to go to school. His answer does not take into account what happened to the black children in the county, who were left without a school for five years when the public schools were closed. Whites went to the private academy, but blacks did not have a school during that time. Taylor, and many whites in the county, have not been fully honest about their actions and have not spoken of them in any depth. The author digs more deeply into the story and finds out the effects that the closure of the public schools had on black students and families.
I feel torn between my love for my grandparents and embarrassed by their prejudices. I want to be loyal to them and protective of their legacy. Yet I believe this story is worth exploring. My discomfort, and others' discomfort, is all the evidence I need. (30)
The author has always loved her grandparents, Papa and Mimi. They were very supportive of her growing up, and she has fond memories of them from childhood. However, she later finds out that they played a role in establishing the private white academy that allowed the county to go for years without proper public schools. She feels torn between her love for her grandparents and her shame over their previous actions. She feels that she must find out the truth about what happened, even though it causes her and others embarrassment.
In a November op-ed, the newspaper claimed that blacks were a year to eighteen months behind whites in their ability to learn . . . Black children would be demoralized in a classroom with whites, the newspaper insinuated. (65)
Green finds old copies of the Farmville Herald, a local newspaper that defended the resistance to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. An op-ed writer used scientifically incorrect information about black people to claim that segregation was for blacks' own best interest. The writer claimed that blacks would not flourish in a white classroom because black students were behind academically. This type of misinformation justified the decision to resist integration.