Guest post by DCF ACCESS Community Partner Liaison for Circuit 6 Phoebe Quarterman in honor of Black History Month.
Celebrating Black History Month reminds me of my own challenges growing up in the South. I was one of the first blacks to attend Pasco High School in rural central Florida. My parents wanted me to receive the best education possible and Pasco afforded me that opportunity, despite its predominately white status. Although it was frightening, I knew that backing out was not an option, and that I could not just quit and return to my old school. I stuck it out, and I am better for the experience.
Having excelled in music, I was offered the chance to attend an event in Miami with the school band. Little did I know that other parents had signed a petition claiming that they did not want me, a black girl, sharing a room with their daughters. I instead sat outside of the hotel room in the hallway until a caring chaperone invited me into her room.
While travelling by bus to Miami, the band stopped for dinner at the local Biff Burger, where I was told that I couldn’t order at the counter. Instead the food was brought to me to eat on the bus. To ease the pain, I told myself that I was being served by the restaurant, and that I was special because they brought the food to me. Throughout these trials I often wanted to give up, but I knew that through my faith and the upbringing I was given by my parents, I could overcome these and any other challenges that came my way.
I am honored to lead the Black History Month celebrations in DCF’s Circuit 6, and I cherish the opportunity to share our rich history with my co-workers. The emphasis of these events has always been one of unity, and seeing our staff and other local agencies come together for these events never fails to make me proud. I still remember the hard times, but in dealing with both my successes and my struggles, I can truly say that it is not the action that matters, but the reaction.