A poem published 22 years ago touched off, or perhaps unearthed, racial tensions at Plant City High School last week.
The poem was read by a black student during a Black History Month assembly Feb. 18. Some white students booed at the last line.
Coincidentally, there was a terrible traffic accident near the school the same day. It was unrelated. But some people saw the police cars near campus, heard of the racial tensions and tried to put two and two together. A rumor was born that police had been called out to a race riot at Plant City High.
Nothing like that happened. There were no riots. Students went to class as usual, though a few parents who heard the rumor asked for their children to go home early.
"Tension was high," said Plant City High School principal William Maxwell. "The rumors got out of hand, but I'd be lying to tell you that we didn't have some hard feelings.
"I guess I thought we were farther along in racial harmony these days. Maybe not. Maybe we need more education. We need to work at it more."
_ STEPHEN HEGARTY
One Thousand Nine-Hundred & Sixty-Eight Winters...
By: Jackie Earley
From My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry
Published by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
Got up this morning
Feeling good & Black
Thinking black thoughts
Did black things
Played all my black records
And minded my own black bidness!
Put on my best black clothes
Walked out my black door
Lord have Mercy!