Jim Crow Biography

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The Life of Jim Crow

My cousin, Alva from Cleveland, Ohio would come to visit us during the summer and would tell us about her bus ride experience when coming into the south. The southern border of Ohio was border with the northwest side of Kentucky. Even with both states sharing a border, Jim Crow did not live in Ohio. The bus would leave Cleveland headed south toward the state borders. When the bus arrived at the Kentucky state line just south of the Mason-Dixon line, the driver would request all passengers to get off. The passengers would then reboard with all Blacks sitting in the designated section toward the back of the bus. This was one of the Jim Crow laws that exist south of the Mason-Dixon. The Mason-Dixon line became known as the
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We had to grow up quickly and understand what was going on around us. I knew we lived in a depressed environment, but I didn’t have any connection to anyone outside of our communities that could confirm or deny our situation.

I can recall one spring when my mother’s Uncle Puddin came from New York to visit us. He talked about many things that was new to us. When he left, my oldest sister who was on school break went to spend the summer of ‘62” with him and his wife. She wrote to us several times telling us of places and people around her in this city. Each time I read her letters, I could feel the joy and excitement through her words on the paper. When she returned home, I seen a different person from the one that left three months ago. Celoise’s outlook on life seems more defined as she explained to my sister and I that your dreams can come true. Living in just our community and not being exposed to new things restricts our mind from growing. With limited knowledge of the outside world our view on life was restricted to our surroundings. My sister had embedded in my mind that there is more out there than there is in here. Convinced that I wanted more, I began to read more and listen more. The local newspaper and television was my means of knowing what was happening outside of our community. The first real acknowledgement was watching the “March on Washington” on
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During my high school years, I had never had the opportunity to talk with a school counselor. There were counselors on site, but there was no one at school or home to advise me to seek them. Our advice at home was to finish school and get a job. The school did not publicly broadcast any preparation to some of us for getting into college, There were teachers who could recommend you if you were in the right classes. If you were athletic, you could be pushed into college based on your physical ability. I really didn’t think about going to college until I was in my senior year. And when I made of up my mind that I wanted to go to college, I had to figure out how I was going to get there. Of course my first step was to ask my parents if I could go. I am not sure why I had to ask them about school, because throughout my school years they were not concerned about my status nor did they expect me to finish high school. They were shocked when I ask if I could go to college, but the answer that I expected was “that’s nice, but we don’t have that kind of money”. The words “grants”, “loans” or “scholarship” were not common words in my household or community. My GPA was average due to my focus on subjects that I loved and tolerated the ones I disliked. I loved my art classes, the art or ability to draw was common in our family. My father and oldest
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