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African Americans In YS Section :: Page 7
Yellow Springs can be a supportive town for black youth to grow up in, according to a group of 10 current Yellow Springs High School students and recent graduates in recent interviews. But the village is not immune to the issues that tend to divide the community by color and burden some African-American families disproportionately. Instances of discrimination are very subtle, and can be unintentional, but they do occur here, the youth said, and they pose obstacles both of perception and in actual practice that young people of color are challenged to overcome.
When Joyce McCurdy accepted a teaching position in the Yellow Springs School District, there was a black chief of police, a black member of Council, and a black member of school board. The principal of the high school was black, and three of McCurdy’s colleagues were also black — and actively involved in the social issues of the day. The year was 1965.
When Isabel Newman graduated from Bryan High School in 1943, Antioch Bookplate President Ernest Morgan hired her to work for the company. Soon after, he sent her to a six-week course at the Mergenthaler linotype school in New York, and upon her return, she worked for the company for over 40 years, retiring as a manager. At that company, whose president actively promoted racial integration, she recalled that typically a fourth of the employees were minorities. The support for a racially diverse staff appeared to be the same at Vernay Laboratories, where two of Newman’s sisters worked, Yellow Springs Instruments and Antioch College, the place that bred all three companies and their socially minded leaders.
When Robert Harris graduated from college with a degree in physics and math, he sought an engineering job in his hometown of Philadelphia. But the year was 1952, and companies weren’t hiring blacks for professional positions.