BROWN vs. BOARD OF EDUCATION: 50 YEARS LATER

Feeling judged by color of skin

Class: Winfield Elementary pupils share their thoughts about the lack of integration at the school.

May 16, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

On the sign in Winfield Elementary School's lobby, black and white hands reach for red, purple, yellow, green and blue stars.

On the wall in Room 14, a laminated copy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is hanging.

But the children in this fourth- and fifth-grade class - all of whom are black - believe they are still judged by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.

These children have studied Brown vs. Board of Education with their teacher, Nadiyah Stowers-Moore. Recently, they shared their thoughts with a reporter on why integration has not occurred at Winfield.

Dominik Briscoe, 10, said white parents don't send their children to the school off Liberty Road in Baltimore County because they are "afraid of black people."

"When they watch the news and see all these murders, it's mostly black-on-black crime and they don't want their kids getting involved in that stuff," he said. "And they don't like black people music."

If whites gave Winfield a chance, he said, "we could probably prove them wrong. This school, it's not bad."

Dearic Busch, 11, said white children are "at better schools. Their parents make more money."

Other comments from the class:

"White people think we loud and dangerous, so they just go to an all-white school where they can get peace."

"White kids' mothers and fathers want their children to go to a better school than this. They think there's not a lot of educated people in this school."

"Their schools might be cleaner. Maybe they have better stuff than we do, better teachers, better bathrooms."

According to Sha-kim Webley, 9: "They think that we're rotten."

Sha-kim said that he was at a Royal Farms store a few weeks ago when he spotted an elderly white woman struggling to cross the street. When he asked if he could help, she started yelling and tried to hit him with her cane.

The children were divided on whether they would get a better education if their school were more integrated.

"I think it would be better off because they're rich," said Jazmine Jones, 9. "We can get a lot of money off of them to help the community, the school, get different books and pencils."

"If whites would come here, it would make the community better," said Alexis Batty, 10. "A lot of kids would start behaving like them and start behaving better."

With the school nearly all black, "we don't get a chance to learn about different cultures," said Marquia Robinson, 10.

Shaheid Smith, 9, said Winfield is better off virtually segregated because black and white children fight with each other.

Isaiah Waddles, 9, doesn't want more white children at his school, either. But there are some things he'd like whites to know about blacks: For example, they're not all selfish.

So how to get that message across? "Put it in a book and make it a law that they gotta read it," Isaiah said.

Kenneth Jones, 10, used to go to a mostly white Catholic school. Now at Winfield, he'd like to see a mix of the kids from his two schools come together. "I think whites don't like to come to our school because they think you'd beat 'em up," he said. If they did come, "we could get to know each other and stop fighting and have fun."

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