StoryCorps’, a narrative based organization whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world, shares thousands of stories from everyday people. The following is one of their animations that features the tale of Reverend James Seawood grew up in the 1950s in Sheridan, Arkansas, and attended an all-black school. The town’s main employer and landlord was a lumber mill. Following the federal mandate to integrate the public schools, the mill forced its African American employees and tenants out of town. As the population diminished, James’ mother became his school’s principal, janitor, and whatever else was needed. He recalls how integration led to African Americans being forced out of his hometown, the human cost of “urban renewal,” and the fate of his beloved school.
More than just his story of urban renewal sharing the name of this blog, it is a reminder of the toll paid by generations of Black Americans in efforts to receive quality education whether the educational system was integrated or separated.