my great-grandfather was a superintendent of schools in a county in east tennessee. he was simple man and believed that all people deserved equal treatment in the 1940s and 50s when that was not the norm. he worked to get the black schools in his county the same materials and level of teachers as the white schools. for this, he received a lot of public criticism. when my grandmother was still a child, the KKK burned a cross in their front yard. she recently told me the story. her dad told her not to look outside, but she couldn’t resist the temptation to see what was out there that scared her dad so much. she climbed up on a stool and took a peek. she saw the cross on the corner of their yard before her father was able to extinguish the flames.
it was a pivotal moment for both him and my grandmother. my great-grandfather moved forward and continued to support ALL of the schools. my grandmother became a teacher herself and went on to work in tuskegee, alabama during the early 1960s.