My mother, Gail Lee Martin, grew up in the 1930s but was more fortunate than many as her father had a job during those hard times. Working for Phillips Petroleum, meant his family had a company house to live in and a nearby school to attend.
A friend of mine spoke to a classroom of school kids for Black History Month. She told them about what it was like to go to a segregated school in South Carolina with outdated textbooks and limited supplies. Her explanation included memories of children who could not attend school when it was cold and rainy since they didn’t have enough coats and shoes for all the children in the household.
The school for whites had a bus that picked up the children in rural areas. The black children had to walk a great distance to their ramshackle school. Some children had to stay home to help with farm chores so the family would have enough to eat. This was in the 1930s and 1940s and based on things she personally experienced.
She told them how things changed in the South when court cases finally forced integration and equal education no matter what race someone was.
When she asked if they had questions. One girl raised her hand and asked, “how did they get their nails done in those days?” Sadly the concept of history and what life was like during the Great Depression was beyond her imagination.
Here’s the book that my friend wrote about her father, who was a minister, and the Supreme Court case that actually laid some of the groundwork for the Brown v. Board of Education case and events in Kansas.