What? They’re not from outer space!

Kathy E. McCabe
Columbia, SC

Yes, these were the words running through my mind back in 1968, while standing outside amongst the rest of the junior high school student body. I watched with curiosity as the two black students made their way ever so cautiously off the school bus. Oh, we had been forewarned of this “dreaded occasion.” So much so that on this particular day in West Columbia, SC, it seemed the entire student body had readied themselves to witness the momentous event. As these terrified two exited the bus, I swear, you could have heard a pin drop. I recall searching the faces of the student body and finding open mouthed, gaping stares. I don’t think a word was spoken. This historical moment was forever etched in my mind. I’m embarrassed to admit I grew up with a very racist father. I had been programmed to resent this change and to hate all who were a party to this change. Nevertheless, my heart cried for these two children. I could not fathom the fear of these newcomers. I just saw them as two scared kids, so much like me on many first days of school.

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  • Chelee

    Lived on Fort Jackson around 1967 to 1968. Parents were interracial couple and Dad was warned of potential problems before taking assignment. Other choice may have been Colorado. It was okay to be seen close to base, such as the Kmart just off the base. My mom worked for a medical office in Columbia that never knew she was married to a black man. She would have lost her job. I know it was terrible for her to have to live a lie at work. It really does not seem that long ago.

    • Kathy E. McCabe

      WOW, Cheleek! Thanks for sharing this with me. I’ve been in Columbia all my life, so this doesn’t surprise me a bit but it may be an eye opener for others. This kind of secrecy even existed to some degree in the early 1980’s. I taught with a woman who was married to a black man, I wasn’t aware of this until I was shown photos of her newborn. I was the new teacher at this 95% black school, and I think it was assumed I would have an issue with this interracial union. It was evident this was trying to be kept from me. Which really brings up a whole different topic. I’m incredibly open minded about such things, so now when I look back on it, were these people not profiling me as a racist?

 

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