Those who know me at all, know I was rocked in the cradle in Sunday School and Church. From as early as I can remember we sang Jesus Loves the Little Children. We had missionaries visit us regularly – with artifacts and pictures and films. But always those children who looked different than we did were from far away.
But we little children who loved Jesus were quite often inspired to be missionaries. My mother prayed diligently for me at the altar. I remember her crying as she prayed that Jesus would always be with me – even if He wanted me to be a missionary, she would be willing. I would be her sacrifice.
When I was probably no older than five or six, mother and I were sitting in a car in Denver when a black man walked by on the sidewalk. The first black I remember ever seeing. I remember her talking to me. I don’t know what she said – she probably called him a colored man – but I do know she gave me no reason to see him as inferior. Just different.
Just how different came from my Granddad Jim. I write about him a lot. What I learned from him was that he loved to go to the “colored” churches. He loved them – their singing, their preaching, their enthusiasm and worship. And he loved the way they called out to the preacher while he preached. I don’t know whether or not he ever was invited to preach to them.
Even when coming to Oklahoma City for college and marriage, I knew no blacks in school, church, or work.
My first black “say-hello-to” married couple lived in an apartment next to us in Alamosa, Colo, when I went there to finish my teaching degree in about 1962. I wanted to work with disadvantaged children so I obtained a minor in sociology.
When I came back to OKC and applied for a teaching job, the Personnel Director said he would hire me but he couldn’t say for sure to what school because he assumed I wanted a placement in north Oklahoma City – meaning a white school. I told him, No, I had a minor in sociology and I wanted a placement “downtown.” With a pleased expression he grabbed the phone and that afternoon I interviewed with two principles and took the job with the first one.
Downtown! I got! Just in time for busing! That’s where LOVE began. For seventeen years, I taught third, fourth, fifth, first, second grades and reading labs. Whites, blacks, Indians, and Mexican. Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World, Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, and White; all are precious in his sight,
I filled every slot where a teacher was needed. I taught in at least six different classrooms. That wasn’t because I failed in all of them! 😀
It broke my heart when I had to move because of my husband’s job change. I went from there to a reading lab in an all white junior high — highly disciplined.