Letter from a St. Paul School
I wanted tell a story about school violence maybe your viewers would like to hear. It’s not about me. I’ll title it Minnesota nice — until they were not.
I went to catholic elementary then to public school in 7th grade. They bused kids in from a nearby area where everybody knew you don’t go in to this area at night.
My experience was minimal with black students. If you got caught alone in the bathroom or taking the city bus to school which came out of Selby Dale area, that was not a good situation.
There was some verbal abuse of teachers but something else went on. The black girls started attacking the popular white girls. At first, everybody ignored it. But it began to escalate over the school year from once or twice a month to three times a week.
Everybody new about it. Girls would tell each other stay out the second floor bathroom. Then it moved to the first floor bathroom. Then the stairwells. Then when moving from class to class.
There was no detention because the fellas and lovely ladies had to catch their bus. Finally they attacked the wrong girl. She had brothers. It got around school that she was bleeding and got cut.
In junior high bleeding was something that happened when you wiped out on your bicycle, not in a fight.
Well, this was 1970s St. Paul. To put this in perspective we had 5 kids in our family and were considered a small family.
If you were a white kid picking on another white kid you better have a good reason or be prepared for 4 or 5 of his brothers hunting you down. I had this personal experience twice.
Lots of large families, with many older and younger siblings in the same school.
My own grama Flaherty, with two sets of twins had 17 kids altogether. After the one attack word went through the school in one day to crowd in the bathrooms lunchrooms everywhere, even into the senior high which was separated by locked steel doors.
We had family in the senior high every one was to meet at the school buses after school and everybody did. 400 maybe not to fight but scare or intimidate we lined the sidewalk leading to buses. We were 25 deep. The black kids would not come out of school.
The teachers came out and were dumb founded. They didn’t have clue a what was going on. No one was yelling or threatening just standing together. The black kids were escorted single file to their bus, one bus load at a time with their tales between their legs.
Another bus would move forward and another bus load would come out single file. This went on for three days — escorted to the bus while we lined the sidewalk. No racial slurs, nothing. We just stood there.
I don’t know if this story means anything but for the next three years there was no more racial hostility. When I was in senior high, my brother was in the junior high and he had no problems.
This is one of my most vivid memories. I guess we taught the world to sing in perfect harmony.
I kept it short. I could have put in a lot of other details. I worry about these young white kids in schools. They don’t have an army of brothers to help like we did when in school.