“Nothin’s gonna be the same.”

At 8:45 AM I was in class to help my teacher get the classroom ready
for the day; I was seven and it was my turn to help with morning chores.

My teacher was in a dither because ‘colored kids’ were coming to school
that day.

Mrs. Sullivan furiously scrubbed the blackboard and muttered under her
breath about ‘niggers’.

I’d never seen any colored kids but heard lots of them lived in
Charleston.

Mrs. Sullivan and I opened the windows so we could clap chalk out the
erasers when through a haze of white dust we saw the first colored kids
arrive at my school.

I smiled and raised my hand to wave but Mrs. Sullivan grabbed my wrist.

Below us, a crowd of white parents formed a barricade with their
kids in front of the entrance; all of them had stones.

The black kids looked scared and paused on the playground, their
parents behind them.

A white man shouted, ‘Go home niggers!’

Then all the parents shouted and threw stones.

A big stone hit a little black girl in the face.

She fell backward and cried.

I felt sad.

I didn’t understand.

White folks said colored people liked their lives.

They said people get along best when they know
their place.

They said colored people want to know their place.

The little black girl’s mother scooped her up and carried her away.

Mrs. Sullivan had tears in her eyes so I asked her why and here is
what she said:

“Nothin’s gonna be the same.”

Rob Goldstein (C) 2018

Rob Goldstein (C) 2018