Freedom Lessons is my 50,000 word novel which tells the story of Colleen Rodriquez, Evelyn Glover and Frank White, who face “Jim Crow” when their all-black K-12 school is closed without notice and they’re forced to integrate into the local all-white schools virtually overnight.
A northerner and newlywed, Colleen struggles for acceptance as a white teacher in the town’s all-black school. The sudden mid-year integration compels her to take sides between black and white and her values are tested as she seeks to understand her new black colleagues, particularly the proud, prickly third-generation black teacher Evelyn, who serves as her mentor.
Frank is a star on the black school’s football team. But his dreams of a college football scholarship are dashed when his new white coach benches all the black players. Frank’s high school friends plan a walk out to demand real equality in their new school, but he won’t – can’t – join in, at least not at first. He knows what happens when Blacks seek equality. His father died in a suspicious fire after opening an auto repair shop that drew customers away from white businesses in town.
Freedom Lessons: Meeting Jim Crow is a fictionalized version of the year I spent teaching in a rural Louisiana town in the late 1960s.
My life's work has been as an advocate for free, appropriate and respectful educational opportunity for all students.
I am retired after a forty-year career in public education.
Freedom Lessons: Meeting Jim Crow will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction and those interested in a broader view of our current civil rights and public school challenges.
History could guide us if we would only listen.
"She heard his shout over a rumbling noise that vibrated the metal walls of the trailer. Confused and worried that he was in trouble she threw open the trailer door to find him sitting on a motorcycle with a helmet on his head and one in his hand."
"Her resolve to make the best of the situation faded. The inside of the trailer was like an oven with the sun beating down on the metal enclosure. She dropped the box she was carrying and sat as she broke into tears."
"Turquoise is a color I like to wear, not live in. We decided not to go to New Orleans for a honeymoon. Instead, we went to Sears to buy an air conditioner."
“Don’t look so shocked,Colleen," Evelyn said. "Some folks think we should be grateful that we have a Negro school: 'Separate but Equal'. My friend had to set up a new classroom in a white school this year and she found out that they store the books in different stockrooms. If they can’t even mix the books, how will they mix the students and the teachers?”