How Did I Get Here?


When I was nearing the end of  8th grade, my parents sold their house in upstate Massachusetts and relocated the remaining kids (three of us still at home) to the Deep South.

I knew nothing about Sanford, Florida, other than my Godparents (whom I’d never met) lived there, and it was fairly close to Daytona Beach, and Disney World.

And it was once the ”Celery Capital of the World.“

When I started high school in the fall. I learned that the school system had only integrated just a few years before I got there.

The school that became  9th grade-only campus had previously been the ”separate but equal“ school during the Jim Crow era.

The students in grades 10-12 now attended classes  in what had been the school for white students throughout Seminole County.

I don’t know when my district in Massachusetts integrated. Though my aunts and uncles who went to the high school in the 1920s had Black classmates.  A nearby district, in Lowell, was integrated since its founding in the 1840s.

There was no shortage of racism in New England, but the practice of legal segregation had never seemed as close as it did when we relocated to Florida.

I was a stranger in a strange land.

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