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A Reunion of Classes, Families and Friends

Claudette Carter has been a writer for more than 30 years. Graduated from Widener University and enjoys focusing on positive things in life.

A Reunion of Classes Attempt to Unite the Racially Divided Town of Mullins, South Carolina

Our hometown of Mullins, South Carolina, was integrated in 1971. Graduates of  MHS's class of 1972 attempted to reunite the divided town through a class reunion. Individuals such as 1972 Homecoming Queen Retha Pee and Doris Coleman Duren, Miss Leaf.

Our hometown of Mullins, South Carolina, was integrated in 1971. Graduates of MHS's class of 1972 attempted to reunite the divided town through a class reunion. Individuals such as 1972 Homecoming Queen Retha Pee and Doris Coleman Duren, Miss Leaf.

Mullins High School Classes of 1972 & 1973 Attempt to Unite the Town of Mullins. SC Racially and Politically

Racial and #political division, has tremendously effected our lives in the past and even today. Our hometown of Mullins, South Carolina's Classes of 1971 and 1972 attempted to ignite a response. Their challenge was to confront and deal with #racial issues and the influence of the status quo. During an interview with #Vice President of the Class of 1972, Doris Coleman Duren, talked about a dispute that developed from some previous class members. "They wanted to hold onto the legacy of Palmetto High because that is all they had until 1971. This would be the last class to graduate from an all black school which would be the start of a whole new era because Palmetto High would no longer exist. So to disregard the legacy and heritage of the Mullins High graduates to me, is an absolutely ridiculous idea. You have got to acknowledge where you came from before you get where you are going."

Why are the experiences of such classmates as Charles Platt, Myron Foxworth, Reatha Pee, Thomas Hughes, Jew Legette, Deborah Johnson, Watis McNeil, Anne Brown, Marverne Vereen, Glendale Owens, Claudette Mullins, Cynthia Ford and Bruce Graves important? The majority of these individuals where the first students to #integrate and graduate from Mullins High School which began in 1971. They were some of the first to partake in what was a source of educational progression from Palmetto High which was all black, where tattered books and substandard educational tools existed in comparison to the all white Mullins High School. During this time of integration within Mullins, our family moved to the city of Chester, PA. Our grades and educational level coming from the all black Palmetto High, were some of the highest in our classes. Palmetto High School's all black educational system was not as substandard as we previously assumed.

The sole purpose of this weekend event was to raise funds for the education of Mullins High School graduates in the future. Doris, went on to explain, "Because Mullins High School still exist and its going to be here unless somebody comes along and decides they don't need a school named after the town. We have got to be mindful of the fact that it is not about divisiveness. It is about inclusion and the other thing I think is very sad that in 2016, we are still separating ourselves by race. We invited our Caucasian brothers and sisters, so if they didn't come it is on them. They were certainly invited. All of us went to school together. We got along. We played sports together. We cheered together. We played on the band together and graduated together." Why in 2016 is there so much division in the world today among #races? One graduate of MHS gave this response, "There is so much racial and political division in the world today. God's kingdom that Jesus taught us to pray for in Matthew 6:10 has to be the only solution."

Do Our Leaders Have the Solution to Racial and Political Division?

Unfortunately, too many of our leaders maintain an accusatorial response to racial division. President #Donald Trump, accused President Obama of ignoring reality, "President Obama thinks the nation is not as divided as people think. He is living in a world of the make believe." Hillary Clinton, the previous Democratic Presidential Candidate expressed, "I am going to start talking to white people. I think we are the ones who have to start listening to the legitimate cries that are coming from our African American fellow citizens." Rudy Giuliani, made this blunt statement on #GMA about the #Black Lives Matter movement, "Black lives matter, white lives matter, Asian lives matter, Hispanic lives matter. That's anti-American and its racist." Unfortunately, leaders in the community do not have the vital answers to so many daunting questions.

Will the Pursuit of Additional Education Conquer Violence, Racial and Political Division?

It is commendable that the various classes of Palmetto and Mullins High, work diligently to raise funds every year for the college education of graduates within the city. Will these type of benevolent gestures prepare our children for a world filled with violence, #racial and political division? It was interesting to hear the response of one black male student at Morehouse University. Professor Lamont Hill, explained how some students felt with the best education, "There is this inescapable violence that even when we go to a great school, we are well educated but we can't escape the possibility of violence." In a recent Watchtower article this profound statement was made, "A lasting solution to violence ultimately involves people--their attitudes and behavior. For violent people to change, such traits as pride, greed, and selfishness need to give way to love, respect, and concern for others." Imagine a world where people have genuine love and concern for others regardless of race. A true brotherhood starts with each of us individually. We must be motivated to make changes. "This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments." - 1 John 5:3. If we observe God’s commandment simply to “love each other” no matter what the color of our skin is. What an equitable solution to the problems of racial and political division.

"We Lit the Flame" Was the Theme for the Evening

On Saturday evening, the classes of 1971 and 72, sponsored their official dinner dance and fundraiser. At a quaint location in the town of Nichols, SC classmates, families and friends gathered to support the valiant efforts of their organizers. The program began with a Welcome from Robert McNeil, a member of the 1971 graduating class of Mullins High. There was an opening prayer, afterward representatives spoke to establish the mood for the evening handled by Deborah Johnson Rothwell and Reatha Pee Davis. A Memorial Tribute was presented for classmates who are deceased which was entitled, Yes We Remember You. The food was blessed and then it was time for the ultimate dining experience which consisted of a fresh fruit and pasta display. Caterers of the establishment served southern style fried and baked chicken. A variety of mixed vegetables. rice pilaf, sweet tea, coffee and cupcakes as well as pound cake was served for dessert.

After dinner such games were played as Table Trivia and Blast from the Past which consisted of major hits from the 60's and 70's. It was hysterical to see individuals trying to figure out these songs that was a part of their era. Once the games ended it was time for the classes to get down to business. Anne Brown Scott, served as spokesperson to initiate various motions in regards to the funds they had raised and where and how they would be distributed. Charles Platt, made a motion and it was seconded by other class members to donate a certain amount to the Palmetto Association. Suggestions were also established that a Mullins High School Alumni Association, would become a registered non-profit in the future. A free conference call number was presented to keep classes informed about future meetings. It was then time for class members to enjoy some old fashion, boogie down dancing.

The Classes of 1971 and 72 of Mullins High School, had weathered the storms of doubt and opposition. Their determination to set a standard and become "In a class of their own," was accomplished. The innocent young men and women, who stood firm in the early seventies and faced racism, in order to conquer integration were truly now "born again." They had cheered, cried and played music with their fellow white classmates while in attendance at Mullins High. Upon their graduation from this school, they took their guilt-free innocence as teenagers into the world. Now, confronted with the dark prejudicial side of the real world, they returned permeated with wisdom, knowledge and experience as men and women. Never defeated by the fact that not one single white classmate accepted their invitation to celebrate and unite with them.

These MHS classes of 1971 and 72 pushed forward and organized within a few months, a successful pool party and barbeque on Friday at the Scott's home. Participated in the town's July 4th, weekend parade on Saturday with a fancy float; paid for by one of the class members, Jerry Jacobs. Saturday, evening was the ultimate source of unity as they created a classy affair, filled with delectable food, dancing and good association with families and friends. On Sunday, after religious services, some gathered at the battle for fundraising toward scholarships for future grads from MHS through the Palmetto High Alumni Scholarship Fund.

These chaste grads of Mullins High School in 1971 and 72, had become determined men and women, who had withstood a barrage of assaults throughout their lives. Yet, they returned stalwart and resolute to move forward and set a precedent for other grads of Mullins High School, regardless of the racial and political division that surrounds them daily. Good job, classes of 1971 and 72 of Mullins High School.

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Graduates, Family and Friends Gathered in the Park For A Source of Unity and Inspiration

On Saturday, afternoon once the parade had concluded, classmates of Palmetto High and Mullins High gathered in the park. This is an annual event for residents to catch up on who is doing what or who is now deceased. Our older sisters and brothers often spoke about this annual event which is usually held during the July 4th weekend. It was interesting to put the names with faces of individuals, they often spoke of. Such prominent names as Daisy and Dorothy Jackson, Mayo Phillips, Leon Phillips and Cheryl Hodge. We also had the enormous pleasure of interviewing Jarret Foxworth, a consummate of historical figures in Mullins. He gave us the history of every teacher or resident that served in various wars. Jarret, also spoke about how his brother Berno, was a major source of the 1969 demonstrations in Mullins.

Our cousins Bruce Graves and LeVonne Graves were present with their historical accounts as well. Our nieces Sharon and Joyce, gave beautiful historical accounts of events concerning the demonstrations and how integration of our schools was not accepted by blacks either. It was intriguing to hear the various accounts of family history that is always a reminder of our origins. People of all ages gathered as a live band played and smooth R&B music flowed from the DJ.

The alluring smells of barbeque, fried fish, hotdogs and hamburgers filled the air. Cold drinks were available for consumption because the southern heat was intense as usual. The association with family, old high school friends and neighbors, made the heat tolerable. The uninvited guests for this event were the flies, mosquitoes and other small flying creatures. Even they became tolerable after sharing laughter, hugs and kisses with family and friends. The cookout in the park of downtown Mullins was a tremendous success as well.

Are We A World Divided by Racism? What are the Solutions?

The History of Black Citizens Who Fought for Human Rights in Racially Divided Mullins, South Carolina

On Friday morning, we stopped for a delicious Sunrise Sampler breakfast, at Cracker Barrel in North Carolina. The very hospitable Christina, served us southern style bacon, eggs, sausage, country ham, hash browns and fried apples. It completely escaped our memories that in the south, black people had fought for that privilege to eat in public places. After we gorged ourselves, our ultimate focus was to arrive at our sister Linda and her husband Randolph's home. Upon our arrival, we thanked our Heavenly Father Jehovah, because an abundance of tickets were distributed by state troopers to other drivers, from the time we left Pennsylvania, all the way to North Carolina. We never fathomed, days later we would be reeling in issues of racism and #police shootings of blacks.

Later, that evening at our sister's home in North Carolina, we prepared an appetizing, candlelit dinner that consisted of cold slaw, fried fish, fresh corn on the cob, sweet tea and chocolate cake for dessert. After the food was blessed, Randolph quietly sat at the head of his dinner table. He had thoroughly enjoyed his delicious dinner but the intensity of his eyes, revealed memories that had to be disclosed. Our hometown of Mullins, South Carolina had lingering memories of painful experiences that now Bishop Randolph Ellerby, more than forty five years later never forgot. "The town was made different but it took some bloodshed," he stated. Randolph, gave a spine tingling description in the video entitled, Historical Revelations Concerning A Fight for Legal Rights Within Our Hometown of Mullins, South Carolina that appears within the video of this segment. His personal experience is unforgettable and inspirational.

Randolph Ellerby, around the age of 16 went into the wrong bathroom at Esso Gas Station, in Mullins, SC. He was black and because Randolph had been in the north working a job, he forgot that in Mullins, during the late 60's he could not go into a bathroom that was designated as #Whites Only. Mr. Ellerby's decision caused him to be arrested because they felt he had broken the law. During this time Blacks were not allowed in public restaurants, stores or other public facilities during the 60's in Mullins, South Carolina which is our hometown. Randolph, explains powerfully, that they fought as teenagers to acquire rights that classes such as MHS 1971 and 72 took advantage of. May we never forget what people before us fought for, in order for us to have the freedoms we have today. Their beatings, imprisonment and disrespect for black individuals continues even today which is a source of destruction for us all. May we find that common ground with the comprehension that we are all humans who make mistakes and that is where forgiveness must be considered. May we find the room for love and forgiveness. Go to jw.org for more information on forgiveness and prayer for our enemies as well. With these considerations, we can stand before our Heavenly Father in prayer, as we attempt to be the very best person we can be.

A Reunion of Classes, Family and Friends

Comments

Claudette Coleman Carter (author) from Media, Pennsylvania on August 08, 2016:

Hi Linda,

Thanks for your comment. The reflections were inspirational to me as well. I thought Randolph's ability to remember and explain his experience was compelling. Good job on his part. This was truly a memorable weekend.

Thanks again for your comment.

Linda Ellerbe on July 20, 2016:

Great job! Good Article! Thanks for reflections!

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