“… we were in school together, but we were separated.”
Editing by Welcome Project intern Brandi Casada.
Transcript for We Were Bussed
Originally, the East Side of Gary, which is anything east of Broadway. See, downtown was flourishing then, so we’re going to say from 8th Avenue down to 5th Avenue was the business district. And then from about, say, 9th Avenue back to about 25th, and from the East Side of Gary up to Broadway was black area. That was where most of the black people lived. And then everything around that. So, you had—the West Side at that time, was predominantly white. And Glen Park was predominantly white. So, blacks were kind of closed in in that one little area. And Glen Park—they probably started to transition about the same time because we moved to the West Side of Gary, and Glen Park was still predominantly white because we were bussed from the West Side. When there was forced integration, we were bussed to Glen Park and went to school in Glen Park. The first year I was bussed was to Webster School in fifth grade. I was among the first group of students that were bussed for integration. And the year that we were bussed to Webster in Glen Park, we had a principal, and her name was Ruth Deverick, and she had two meetings: she called in the parents of the white students and the parents of the black students prior to school. And she said, ‘Now, we are coming together as a school—a united school—we are not going to have problems this year.’ And that school year went smoothly. And then they got rid of her. And the next year, we had a new principal, and that was not his mindset. And it was chaotic almost the whole year. And so, I often wonder now as I reflect on that, was that the mindset of the administration? Because they had to know that under her guidance, there were no problems, and they moved her, and moved him in, and he had a totally different mindset, and there were problems all year. And so, we went on from there into junior high school, and we went to Bailey, and it kind of continued. You know, we were in school together, but we were separated.
That was also the year that Martin Luther King died, and we were very upset about it, and the school system kind of felt—we felt like it was just incidental to them. They did not care. So, we wanted some acknowledgment that this had happened, whether it be some type of assembly, even something said over the intercom. But they refused to do anything. They just acted like it had never happened, or like it was of no importance…. There were several of us who led a walkout, and we left. Now, Bailey School was quite a distance from where we lived because that was in Glen Park over on Georgia Street, and we were normally bussed home. But we walked that day. We walked home to show our solidarity behind the death of Dr. King. We were just happy that we were able—you know, we felt empowered by walking out and saying that we are showing how we feel about the death of Dr. King, whether or not you feel at all about it. There were no consequences. You know, no one was punished for it. I guess at that point, it was like, ‘If we don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen. And just go from there.’
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