Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)
TITLE: One of the Nine
By Allison Egley
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I can't believe it. I start school at Central High School tomorrow with eight other Colored folk. I can't believe this is happening. I really don't know what to expect. I know there will be some hostility. Why can't people understand that we are just like them? We didn't choose to be Colored. We can't choose that any more than they can choose their eye color. Momma says I've got to practice speaking and writing "proper" English if I want to fit in, so I guess I'll practice here. Even though I don't know what will happen tomorrow, I know that the Lord Almighty will keep me safe.
September 23, 1957
Today was harder than I expected. I expected the controversy. I even expected the yellin'. What I didn't expect was the open hostility. They had to get a police escort for us. I think even the police were a bit resentful and were jus' doing their job. People were shoutin' and cursin' at us. I cringed every time I heard the "N' word. What's so hard 'bout calling us "Colored?" I don't really care what they call us. Anything is better than the "N" word.
I thought it would get better once I got to class. I thought my generation was more open to change. They ain't. They didn't even try to hide the fact that they were talking about us. It was like they didn't think we could understand them. We may say some things differently, but we can still understand them. We ain't dumb. We ain't deaf either. Some of them even said everything they were thinking to my face. The teachers didn't even try to stop them. Some even joined in. I thought the teachers would at least have the sense not to say anything. But I guess their generation don't think much of us. It hurt. But I refused to let the tears fall. Least not 'til I got home.
September 30, 1957
Sorry I ain't written much lately. School has been crazy. I'm so far behind everyone else 'cause I didn't get a good education like most of them. The teachers have no sympathy. They seem to think since I got myself in here, I must be smarter than everyone else. Maybe I'm jus' imaginin' it, but I think the teachers like to ask me the hard questions so everyone can laugh at me.
Some things are better though. No one talks to me. Better than everyone callin' me names. I trys to start conversations, but they ignore me. Pretend they can't hear me. Now who's deaf?
October 3, 1957
School's improvin'. A few of us Colored folk have lunch together, so we sit at our own table away from everyone else. We try to tune out the jeers that come, but it's hard. We jus' talk amongst ourselves. They all havin' similar experiences to me. We thought by now we'd fit in a bit more, but it's not happnin'. I'm a gettin' sloppy in my English too. It's hard speakin' and writin' like them white folk! They talk so fancy.
December 20, 1957
I jus' got the best Christmas gift ever! One of the white gals in class, Mary, has been talkin' to me like a real person. Today, she gave me a present! A hairclip she made herself. She told me she wants to invite me over to her house, but she don't think her parents would like that. She's gonna talk about me to her folk over break like I'm a "normal" person, as she says. She's gonna ask if I can come over, and not mention than I'm Colored. Oh, I can't believe I may get to go to a white folks' house! Oh, Lord Almighty, let it be true!
January 7, 1958
I went to Mary's house today! Her parents were surprised when they saw me, but they handled it well. They didn't throw a fit or anything. Her mom makes the some of the best chocolate chip cookies. I never thought anyone could make 'em as good as Momma, but these were almost as good. Now that Mary's talkin' to me, school's better. She's even gonna' help me catch up! She says she'll be my personal tutor. School's just gonna' keep gettin' better. I can't wait. Praise the Lord Almighty!
Elizabeth Eckford was one of the members of "The Little Rock Nine," a group of nine African Americans to attend Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas. They are known as the students who first broke the color barrier in American public schools.
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