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+ Shipping $6.95. "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.
"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."
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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.
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