I was able to record my first life review for Sofia – Wisdom of the Ages on September 21, 2014. My subject was Linda, who was born in the Columbus, Ohio area in 1948. Linda is African American and was open to recalling how it was growing up in Columbus during a period of great social change in the United States. In her retelling of this time period, she also included memories of her father’s experiences as a child even earlier on during this era. Her father’s experience contained more examples of racial segregation than what she experienced, although she did experience it herself. She also compared life as a black in the North vs. when she briefly lived in Tennessee as a young woman.
Our overall conversation lasted well over 90 minutes. However, it was in the final minutes that Linda interjected saying that she wanted to add something. She was struck by a memory that had just returned to her. She had recalled a few years back being asked to be on her high school’s class reunion committee. She was surprised that she had been asked to participate since although the school had been integrated, there was still the tendency of the races not to socialize or mix. She continued to relate a discussion had started during one planning meeting in which the class prom was remembered. Linda divulged that the prom hadn’t meant much to her “group”. “It didn’t even have the music we liked.” (paraphrased) She found it interesting that the others in the group weren’t aware that this was happening; that it never occurred to them that their black classmates would have had other preferences in music or differing opinions as to how the prom should be planned. As the conversations continued that night, Linda said the group of women had several other instances of being unaware of how the other “groups” felt or viewed things at the time. This unawareness had also taken place on both sides.
Linda finished by saying she was amazed at this unawareness that had occurred back then in her high school. It was just how things were done then. Today, a prom committee would rarely if ever, consider just catering to one race’s music preference, for instance. She was struck by how much had changed since her time in high school and for high schools today. Although we can argue there is still so much more we can improve upon for race relations in our country, “now that we know better, [we try to] do better.”
I hope you will take the time to view Linda’s retelling. It was very interesting to hear her recall her childhood, in general. I cannot do justice to her own words. Please go listen to her eloquently speak for herself.
Quote Image: Henrietta Curtis