I have lived in California since 1959–which should now qualify me as a native. Before coming to California, though, I lived in a farming community in Mississippi, and was among the last group of Black students to attend segregated schools in the pre-Brown v. Board of Education era. Recently, I made the journey back to Prentiss, Mississippi for a school reunion.
Earlier this year, I received an invitation to the first ever Mt. Zion Community School reunion. I attended the school as a young boy during the 1950s. Nothing was impressive or noteworthy about the school, no one of social note went there, or for that matter, visited the structure behind the church at the top of Mt. Zion road.So why its interest now? What does it add to the already complex quilt work of societal anecdotes? Locally, such an event such as this would raise few eyebrows in or outside a small, agricultural township like Prentiss, Mississippi. But this event has a story to tell that is as relevant now as it was then. It speaks to all Black families who, for many years, have lived and raised families in Prentiss and neighboring townships throughout Jefferson Davis County. Since the inception of the school in the late 1920s, it has been a source of information and knowledge, while educating students for over 40 years.