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VOD: Meridith Degarmo


Just as I approach the high school building, I notice that there are two officers arresting a young, black boy for talking to a white person by the school. This can’t be right, did the boy threaten somebody? I don’t really recognize either of them, but I do find it weird that I’m wearing a babydoll dress and Mary Janes. I thought these things were popular in the 60s. I need to find out why everything looks so different from what I’m used to. I don’t even know how I arrived here. Nothing is familiar about this strange place, not even me.

As I walk the blocks of this unfamiliar street, I discover a sign that says “For coloreds only” outside of a building. To me, it just looks like something that should have been torn down a century ago, but apparently it is a school building. I try to peek inside, but I am distracted by the sound of yelling coming from the block ahead of me. There is a large group of people surrounding something. I try to look at what everyone is staring, but I can’t see past the heads in front of me. Then they all started chanting. They were saying words that I cannot repeat. Finally, I look at what everybody is surrounding. They are three black children. I do not believe that they did anything to this group of people. I do notice that every single one of the chanting people are white. I don’t understand it, the kids were most likely just trying to walk to the small school building that I just saw.

I start to walk faster to find something that might spark a memory of how I arrived here. It seems as though every direction I turn leads me to more black people getting harassed. How could innocent people be treated like this? I don’t understand how any of this could be real.

Just around the corner in front of me, I hear what sounds like running water and screaming. Curious, I turn the corner and see that three black women are being sprayed by a fire hose. The pressure from the water is so strong that all of them fall down and cannot stand back up. I can’t watch anymore. Everything here makes me mad from the divided signs to the way people are treated. Cruelty like this seems to only happen in my history textbook.

I enter a building that appears to be an old fashioned diner. Before I enter through the doorway, I notice that all heads are turned in my direction. As I look closer, all of the heads belong to black people. Nothing about this seems odd until a police officer walks in behind me. He asks me if any of these folks have bothered me in any sort of way. When I tell him, “No,” he almost seems disappointed.

As I try to search this town a little bit more, I come across a newspaper crumpled up on the sidewalk. I pick it up and read it. The front page says, “Martin Luther King Jr. Shot Yesterday”. I look to check the date on the top of the page. It says April 5, 1968. I sit down feeling dizzy. Is this why everything is messed up here? Maybe it is just a coincidence. I walk up to the first person that I see to ask what year it is. “It’s 1968 silly” they answer me. What is going on with me? I must be hallucinating because this cannot be possible.

Where I am from, everything is so different. We are treated as individuals rather than being based on skin color. I guess I never realized that our world changed so much in less than 60 years. Now, everybody is allowed to walk into whatever public building because there is no more legal discrimination In the United States of America. Laws have changed for the better over the past.

“Are you okay? You need to wake up. Get up.” Slowly, the brightness of the light seems to grow as I gain consciousness. My mom is standing in the doorway trying to wake me for school. She said that it took awhile for me to finally open my eyes and wake up. It was all a dream. I am so thankful for the time period that I live in. Everything seemed so complicated being separated everywhere you go. As Americans, we have moved forward in so many good ways.

Considering all of the good that has come from American events from the past, my hope is that the future will do the same as time keeps passing. As I hop on the bus to go to school, I start to think about my dream. The way that many people were treated was so wrong. I am glad that I live in this time where we have freedom to go where we want and do what we want without having to be divided based on skin color. I look around me to find that everybody is smiling and talking, the way they should be. Every person makes up this awesome country in their own way. That is what makes America unique.

In the future, I expect everything to turn out for the better since Americans have endured many difficult times throughout our nation’s history. Our country has had its ups and downs, but it always comes along in positive ways from the experience.


Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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