My white family moved from Indiana to Mississippi in 1977, when I was 8 years old. Our family was seen as “Northern Yankees” and we were not welcomed by many in the white community. The black children were kind to me when I entered school and quickly became my friends. I didn’t know about the colorline or the Civil War for that matter. The other white children in my neighborhood began harassing me and calling me names, and actually referencing the Civil War in their comments. I went home and read about the Civil War in the encyclopedia. The next time I was confronted about the Civil War, a boy who was several years older than me said, “The only reason you Yankees won the war was that you had more people.” I replied, “The reason we had more people was that we were right.”
He was so angry that he shoved me and I fell into a ditch. My friendships with the black children at school continued, despite the fact that one girl’s mother came to our home and told my parents that I was going to get her daughter killed. Soon thereafter, our house was vandalized. Racial slurs were spray painted on the stone facade and windows were broken. The realtor who had sold my parents the house came to tell us that there was no way that we could stay in that town. The town purchased the house from my parents so that we could leave, and we moved an hour away.