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"With All Deliberate Speed: One High School’s Story" grew out of a project led by Merideth Taylor with support from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions. In 2003-2004, Great Mills High School students and teachers participated with Taylor in interviewing former students, teachers, and administrators who experienced the desegregation process at the school between 1958 and 1972. At the end of the year, students presented scenes drawn from the interviews for a 50th Anniversary celebration of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. In 2007 and 2008, Taylor conducted subsequent video interviews, and the documentary is primarily drawn from these interviews, but reflects the information from over thirty interviews conducted between 2003 and 2009. This project was made possible by a grant from the PNC Foundation Legacy Project with support from the Maryland Humanities Council. The Maryland Humanities Council is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the PNC Foundation, the Maryland Humanities Council, or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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In Relentless Pursuit of an Education is local history at its best. In their own words, residents of St. Mary's County, Maryland, tell of the separate and unequal black schools that existed until the county finally complied with Brown v. Board of Education in 1967. This generation displays no nostalgia for segregation, but they do recall how their daily life was marked not only by inequality, but also by determination, caring, even fun. 117 pages, soft cover, indexed, over 200 photographs, 8½" x 11"
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St. Mary’s County is where colonial Maryland began, with the establishment of St. Mary’s City on the site of an ancient Yaocomico village as Maryland’s first capital in 1634. Southern Maryland has been home to human occupation for at least 12,000 years, and since 1634 the area has seen myriad changes through the rise and fall of tobacco agriculture and its associated enslaved labor to its current status as a bedroom community to Washington, DC, and as home to the Patuxent Naval Air Station.
"The black schools were pitiful because we got all the cast-offs, the junk, the broken-down desks, the bench - I mean, the books with pages tore out. You got no sports equipment. You got blackboards that was chipped. You got erasers that was wore out. You did not get any new equipment in black schools. You know, the only thing new there was if you brought a tablet or a pencil of your own. Everything else was hand-me-downs and stuff that a lot of it should have been thrown in the dump. But here again, it was better than what we had because without that we had nothing. That, to me, is a hell of a way to have to try to get an education, but you done what you had to do."
"We used to get our checks once a month. When I got married, I got my check three days earlier than everybody else, and they didn't believe me. I had to bring my check to work and show it to them. My maiden name was Smith. Gaskin just had to be a white person. So the sent me my check all year long with the white teachers. They didn't know any better. Then at the end of the year, when I went to carry my register - we had these darn registers ... and she said, "You're Miss Gaskin?" I said, "I am." I didn't get another check early."
"Our teacher, Mrs. Statesman [Carrie Statesman], she was a sweet lady. I wish she was around here. She could really tell you something. In cold weather, Mrs. Statesman, and I know she bought it out of her own pocket, which I know they weren't paying her that much, would bring this cocoa, you know, and make it so the kids would have something hot to drink."
A Documentary by Meredith Taylor about the desegregation of Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland.
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