Dave Grumman sent us an article published in the Chicago Tribune about a young black girl in Chicago who saw her best friend shot and killed by a gunman. Deerfield subsequently gave the girl a scholarship to attend the academy, so the article described how the girl managed the transition from South Side Chicago to bucolic New England.
Some members of our class commented on the piece:
Jim Hays wrote “The article that has Deerfield as a backdrop is interesting. Certainly there are huge cultural differences between Chicago’s South Side and Deerfield. The young woman seems to have adjusted quickly and well. It cannot be easy. I wonder how many black students from similar backgrounds there are at Deerfield. My daughter attended Oberlin and there the diverse student body seemed to coagulate into small groups from similar backgrounds or political points of view. I was disappointed that over time there was not more blending of these groups.
“We are drawn to people who have common histories. I suppose millions of years of tribal living have caused that characteristic to become hardwired in us and it is very hard to break it..”
Judy Ewing (Jim’s wife) wrote “I just read the article about Klyn Jones, and appreciated it very much and will share it with Jim when he has the time. It made me sad, however, because now I know how my only black friend from college felt even though we loved her because she had a great sense of humor—but she preferred to go home to Syracuse on weekends as there were only a few black students on campus from ’58-’62. I am going to send her this article, as we still keep in touch and often write about civil rights and race relations. A bunch of us from our dorm all wanted to move into a private dorm. We made the appropriate arrangements, but when the landlady found out that one of the girls was black she said that she could not accommodate us. We got her to change her mind. Actually, we told her that if Jonesy could not room there, then none of us would and we wanted our money back. She then changed her mind, and got to like Jonesy, because she was our friend.
I wish this young woman all the best, as she has a very deep burden to carry around with her as well. I hope she will share it with others because I think it will be helpful.”
Peter Rooke-Ley wrote: “Thanks for sending this touching and encouraging article about the young woman from Chicago.”
Bucky Buckwalter wrote “This is a poignant story. Having lived a good chunk of my life in South Side Chicago-type communities, I wonder if Deerfield might think of a “bridge week” for incoming minorities from quite different cultures who plunge into the elite system and community that Deerfield encompasses. I am amazed that this young woman saw it through at Deerfield. That says a lot about her family values and commitments. I hope she pushes through some of the cultural differences at Deerfield and finds a place. Having said that, I am curious to learn and to know what Deerfield does to make minority students feel like they belong at the academy, especially those from poverty and low-income areas in our cities.”
Here’s a link If you would like to read the original Chicago Tribune article.