Student Essays On Brown

May 16, 2004

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the Baltimore County school system held an essay contest for middle school pupils and high school students, asking them how the case affects their lives. Some excerpts:

"Because Loch Raven Academy is racially balanced, I have met kids of many races and cultures. ... As pre-teens, we are feeling a lot of the same emotions like peer pressure, acne, weight loss, weight gain, body development, caring about our appearances and trying to find yourself. All the kids, no matter what ethnicity they are from, are trying to fit into the middle school surroundings."

NiKeia Walker, seventh grade, Loch Raven Academy

"To me, having dark skin implies I must achieve something out of my life. It's as if because I am African-American living in the 21st century, failing would completely deceive those who have worked severely to get me here. ... Some label me as ridiculous for still caring, but I omit those comments. I just sit in class, complete my assignments, and get the most out of my day, because I know that my heroes will ask me how my day was, and I'll be able to say 'I made you proud,' when I pray at bedtime."

Shekesia Joyner, junior, Parkville High School

"As a student of a public high school, I oftentimes witness segregation in the classroom, on the bus, and in the lunch room. The only difference between this segregation and the segregation which was outlawed in schools in 1954 is it is by choice. ... The complete extinction of segregation does not look promising, seeing as the problem appears to be worsening. ... It is not atypical to wonder whether or not segregation may become an even bigger issue, possibly an issue within the court once again."

Candice Leeper, sophomore, Towson High School

"If things were the same, there would be no African-American kids even in my school. Also there would be no African-American teachers in my school. If there weren't any, we would not get a full description of certain aspects of life, such as slavery. There wouldn't be any of my favorite teachers, either, such as Mrs. Watson and Mr. Fulcher. ... For the African-American students, they get equal rights and schools are now integrated. For the Caucasian students, they get a chance to see that everyone is equal and we're all the same."

Skylar Hogan, eighth grade, Franklin Middle School

"I am an African-American male participating in a gifted and talented program at a predominantly white school. This gives people of other races and ethnic backgrounds a chance to see a positive image of an African-American male, not the way African-American males are often portrayed by the media."

Joshua Parrish, freshman, Pikesville High School

"I have had the chance to meet different types of people and learn about different types of people. Like in Social Studies, when we learn about China (and we have Asian people in class), it's more interesting to hear from someone who has actually been there instead of reading it in a textbook. If we were in separate schools today, Caucasian kids would think that they're better than everyone else is."

Stacey Linz, sixth grade, Golden Ring Middle School

Compiled by Sara Neufeld

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