by Ernie McCray
When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity.
I, unknowingly, set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were, seemingly, knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking, Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.
I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.
I would observe goings on in every school I ever attended, thinking of what I might have done differently if I had been the teacher. I’d imagine how I would have made lessons come alive, or more relevant to students’ lives.