Ann Johnston, “Our Negro Daughter,” 1960

We are the Caucasian parents of a Negro child in Kent, Washington, a community where there are very few people who are not Caucasian.

In our household for the past 17 years there have always been one or more non-white children. During this time ours were often the only children in the school who were not white. Our relationship with both the community and the school has been predominantly good. During the 13 years we were foster parents, we had in our home for varying lengths of time 96 foster children.

Our Negro daughter, Pat, is now 16 and has been our own since she was six weeks old. She is the youngest of our five children, another daughter and three sons by blood. All of them attended Kent Meridian School. Pat started in kindergarten there.

Patty, as we call her, is a wholesome girl with a warm and friendly personality. She is active, mature and intelligent. We are proud of her and feel deeply our responsibility as her parents. Our family believes it should be possible for an individual to live as a person among people, rather than a Negro among whites. We feel our experience could be useful to others if they find it an honest source of information. . . .

We frequently meet criticism. People say to us: “You have no right to do what you have done. In the cause of integration, you are willing to sacrifice your daughter; for you know you cannot keep her happy and safe.” We agree we cannot. But we do not believe she could be happy or safe in she had to stay in a ghetto. We did not believe she would be happy or safe in the bombed schools of the South. We do not believe she can be happy or safe until there is no longer any race discrimination. We do not believe we can be happy or safe, either, for as many times as armies have swept back and forth across the world, we who call ourselves Caucasian speak only in degrees. Korea and Japan have the latest, not the first, soldiers' children.

 

Source: Ann Johnston, “'Our Negro Daughter',”Ebony, May 1960.

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