That conversation began an 11-year dialogue and soul-searching journey within myself. Raised in a blue-collar, all-white, very Christian Midwestern town. The picture below could have been taken from my Michigan hometown.
We had maybe three black kids in our entire school. Enough where we could all claim it made us open-minded.
We grew up basically learning nothing of African-American history. I was surprised to learn that other schools were on holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Our school was in session.
There are parts of my city that I have never been to, was carefully shielded from. The only thing I knew was that my grandparents used to live there and moved out as more “blacks” moved in. Segregation has legally been over for years, but that doesn't mean people don't self-segregate. Unless it pertained to sports, then people just loved the few African-Americans that did go to our school. We needed them to win, and they were all athletic stars, perhaps clinging to athletics as a way to make them valued in our community. Survival.
This Stanford University study also makes that point.