Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The DeLaine Brothers

Although I am officially in the revision stage of Half-Truths, I am still gathering details from books, interviews, museums and other sources. Yesterday that mean attending a panel discussion at the Charlotte Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum. Featured were Joseph and B.B. DeLaine, sons of Reverand Joseph DeLaine, who filed the historic lawsuit sixty years ago which led to the Supreme Court's landmark decision ending school desegregation in 1957.

B.B. DeLaine

Joseph A. DeLaine
As the brothers remembered their father and the 30's and 40's when they grew up in Clarendon, SC, several things stood out. I was impressed with their tremendous respect for their hard-working father.  Rev. DeLaine was a minister, farmer, school principal, and community leader. B.B. said, "Daddy was strong. He often told us that 'You are your brother's keeper. You have responsibility for those who are less fortunate.'"

In a county that was three-quarters black, and where the children often didn't go past the 6th grade because they were needed back home to work, schools were less than adequate:For more information, you can view a video of Joseph. B.B., and their sister Ophelia remembering their father's role in desegregation.  If you live near Charlotte, NC, visit The Levine Museum of the South to see the award winning exhibit COURAGE which tells this grassroots story through photographs, personal histories, and other artifacts.

As described in an editorial in yesterday's Charlotte Observer: "School was in old dilapidated buildings heated with pot-bellied stoves, with 75-80 students crammed into single classes with one teacher. Falling apart, hand-me-down school books bore the stamp 'colored only' so students knew their place in society. Getting to school required a walk of nine miles or more for many because the public school system refused to provide buses."

This was the system that Rev. DeLaine worked against in spite of the risks to his life and to his family's life. The brothers didn't realize it, but at the time armed black men guarded their home at night--extremely dangerous work.

B.B. said, "Our father was outspoken. He had nothing to lose." As a result of his courage and bravery many children eventually gained access to public transporation to the same schools which whites attended.

Joseph commented on how teenagers today don't know what it's like not to have to go into a restaurant through the back door. In a sense, this is a tribute to his father's legacy; segregation is now a part of our country's history.

But there are lessons about racial prejudice that we don't want to forget. This applies to many cultures and races. As B.B. said, "Like Jews, you have to know the past [in order] to know the future."

And I guess that is why I am writing Half-Truths. It is a part of Charlotte's not-so-long-ago past. A past that we all can stand to learn from.


Linda Phillips said...

Well done, Carol. I wish you success with Half Truths. You have done a thorough job of researching Charlotte's racial history.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Linda, for the vote of confidence. Unfortunately, the more Ilearn, the more I realize I don't know!!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

And the research goes on. I'm impressed!

And I really like their father's philosphy. 'You are your brother's keeper. You have responsibility for those who are less fortunate.'"

elysabeth said...

That's the truth, Carol - but there has to come a time when you just have to use what you have and go from there. Granted you are in the revision stage so maybe all this extra information will lead to more books. Looking forward to when Half Truths is released - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?

Carol Baldwin said...

Elysabeth- Actually, I'm finding this revision stage to be almost as challenging as first writing the book! But you practically read my mind, I do have ideas for a sequel (and perhaps a prequel too) to Half-Truths and the panel presentation informed that also. To be honest, as Joyce has taught me, you never know where you're going to pick up a tidbit or two that will end up in the final story! Thanks ladies, for your comments.

Linda A. said...

Hi Carol,

I found these facts very interesting. There were details I'd never heard--like the stamp on the textbooks. Aweful!

Thanks for sharing valuable information. Best of luck with Half Truths.

Linda A.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Linda. I'm amazed at what I'm learning as I research-- this history is really not so far from any of us.

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