Today, career options seem unlimited because of the internet. The choices available for men and women are vast, and the ability to search colleges anywhere opens the world to our young people. But let’s go back in time. Last month I highlighted the limited career choices available for Missy as a woman in the late 1950’s. However, for Addie the list was even smaller. She saw only one way out of the Jim Crow South and servitude – the Black Teachers College.
Addie’s future was riddled with road blocks. First Addie was a woman with the same limitations forced on Missy by a male dominated culture. Now add that she was a black woman. Segregation was still a way of the south. Her choices for education were limited to Black Colleges, or the small selection of northern colleges that would admit blacks if they met the requirements. That was often difficult because of the subpar education provided in the southern black schools. I invite you to read Book Club 7 – Education paves the way to… on this site for more information about this subject.
Her next roadblock was the financial strain on her family with an income that allowed them to survive but not thrive. James was given a limited amount of land to farm. Both Addie and her mother worked to help support the family. When her mother became ill there was fear that Addie’s dream would be taken away. For Addie an education was only possible with a scholarship and self support. College meant living in the unheated attic of a boarding house where she cooked and cleaned for a meager wage. She was never allowed to return home for visits for fear of losing her job.
Missy tells us that Addie was smarter, but intelligence does not always lead to opportunity in a culture determined to stop a person from succeeding.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana