Driven by a Dream: Olivia's Passion

This is a fictionalized story of the actual experience Olivia, an eighth grader, who lived in a remote rural area of Alabama in 1945. Her dream was to become a teacher. Obstacles threatened this ambition. The school in the community where she lived was limited to the ninth grade. The county school office made no provisions for a black high school. The closest high school for blacks was over thirty miles from her home. She was able to overcome this major hurdle by traveling daily to this school that was far from her home. This is a hardship, but Olivia succeeded.

This story gives a vivid depiction of the substandard provisions and conditions of schools many black children in the rural south attended. The segregated conditions and everyday encounters with discrimination and prejudice will give you a glimpse of how black students persevered and made adjustments to the limited educational provisions for them in the south before the Civil Rights Movement.

Olivia was my best friend at Hooper City High School in Birmingham. We graduated together in 1949.

--Ruth McCarns Oates

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