Monday, September 5, 2011

an incredible discovery

What would you say? “I want your book to be required reading at our school in Greenville.”

Of course I was flattered when my cousin, an award winning art instructor in Greenville, SC made mention of No Gold Stars. What she didn’t know was that I had spent half an hour being interviewed by a reporter from the Greenville News the day before.

My cousin was thrilled, asked whether I’d come to Greenville to discuss my book at her school.

“I’d love to,” I answered. “A few days ago I spoke to Barnes and Noble in Greensboro. They want me to have a book signing there. It’s good to know that the story of of my amazing students will finally be made public.”

Based on my memoir, No Gold Stars relates stories about my students at the school I integrated in 1968, Sterling Jr.-Sr. High, Reverend Jesse Jackson’s alma mater. One of the chapters tells about when my students and I integrated the formerly all white public library, a frightening experience for a few of my students.

“Although I haven’t seen any of my former pupils, I think of them often,” I told my cousin.

“Then you’ll love hearing this,” she said. “One of my students wrote a term paper about the Civil Rights era in Greenville. When I told her that my cousin had integrated Sterling, she surprised me. It seems that her Uncle had told her that he was one of your students who had gone to the library with you!”

“Who was it?” I asked, hoping to hear a name I might have remembered. I was thrilled and excited. Although I had thought that taking my students to the library was a profoundly important experience, I had no idea that they had felt the same. Almost too stunned to speak, I managed to ask my cousin whether she could find the name and address of my former student.

“I’d love to talk to him,” I said.

“I may be able to arrange that,” my cousin responded, “perhaps when you come to our school. But I’ll need some books.”

I told her that they were now available at Barnes and Noble’s web site or Amazon’s. “And the price has been reduced to $12.60. Kindle should be available soon.”

My cousin promised to let me know as soon as a date was set. As she spoke, I was trying to imagine what I would say to one of the stars of No Gold Stars...

B. Koplen 9/6/11

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