Historical Perspective on Schooling and Race




"I went to an all black elementary school called the Hygenic School. I was two blocks from what was called the West School, which was a white elementary school, but I walked eight blocks to go to a segregated school." Zane Phoenix, African-American


"There seemed to be a silent rule and you knew your place...there was a certain point when you were reminded of who you were, you couldn't mix, you couldn't integrate" African-American voice


"Well, I don't know why they don't like a black person. And if they would tell the truth, they couldn't tell you why." African-American voice


"I came up in a time when the Klan marched the streets of Steelton at night." African-American voice




Wilmer Phoenix, father of Zane Phoenix.


"I didn't feel any oppression because the school was segregated, but there was quite a bit, I think, of segregation in Steelton. When we went to the Hygenic School, all the teachers were black, the principal was black and alll the students were black. I t was like a community concern, the teachers were concerned about the students. I think one of the advantages was that we got to study Black History long before it became popular to study black history, because we had teachers who were versed in teaching it. We always had Black History at the Hygenic School." Zane Phoenix





"We were never allowed to go to the prom with the whites. In 1943, we were the first class to refuse to go to the prom--the black prom."



"It's a shame that for 180 days, we're sitting in classrooms for history, you're learning everything about history and you never hear anything about any black people. They say February is supposed to be the month for black history, we don't ever listen t o anything like that...You don't even know about it. You don't even care about it." --Steelton-Highspire female student


"You have two people, ya know like popular people, they hang around their same color. You even see quiet, white people. Like white people that are smart, that are quiet, they hang around together. There might be two sets of popular girls and they don't like each other. It is separated to me." --Female, freshman Steelton-Highspire student



Click hereto return to Young People's Perspectives.

Go Back to Home Page