There were one or two teachers who became frustrated with the occasional unfocused or disruptive student. This led them to make such arrogant statements as, "I've got mine [education]. You have to get yours." It was in these classes that I worked harder.
During my sophomore year, I submitted an application to attend the first school in the United States to offer a magnet curriculum. Applicants could apply for full- or part-time status to study specialized courses. I opted for part-time attendance and was accepted. I would attend my home school in the mornings to take my core classes and ride a school bus to the magnet school to study business courses in the afternoons.
Wilma depicts the African American girl in Rockwell's painting, "The Problem We All Live With." The 1963 painting illustrating school racial integration originally appeared in Look magazine in 1964. The painting was inspired by the first African American child to attend an all-white school in the South, Ruby Bridges.
The optional predominantly black school had been labeled a "fashion show" because many students focused more on wearing the latest fashion than on their education. Without a desire to compete in their fashion show, and open for change, I opted to be among those blacks mandated to desegregate one of the two all-white optional schools.
"You're a radical," one of my eighth grade teachers to me. "What's a radical? "I asked. "Look it up," he said.
At the desegregated school with its predominantly white staff, the majority of the teachers cared about educating us as a whole, but only a handful gave me the impression they cared about me as a person. None of them knew my parents.
Because those AA teachers had years before arrogantly proclaimed they had gotten theirs, long before I entered that desegregated school setting, I knew full well that I had better get mine, too. So I did, sometimes fashionably dressed in an outfit that had not been worn in at least 10 days, but by senior year, I didn't care who had seen me in what.