African Americans, particularly in North Carolina, sacrificed more to build schools than any other group. Despite this, many educators accept the myth that African American families are less interested in education than others. Historically, nothing could be further from the truth. I call this damaging stereotype “the inversion.”

Nida Hayes Murphy, early teacher in Pender County, NC. Undated image courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library, identification provided by local family members

If you teach in Title One (high poverty) schools as I do, then it is likely that you have endured many workshops focused on student deficits. Title One schools are likely to have a higher proportion of students of color than their wealthier counterparts. At one point, I taught in a school…

Mom,writer, filmmaker, teacher, recovering New Yorker

Editing my feature film Sharecrop

My writing, filmmaking and teaching are all knit together by my fascination with stories. Over the past 17 years I have created documentaries centered on oral history of historic African American schools, and on sharecropping. (You can learn more and link to film trailers, and stream four of my films on Amazon, see my website below for more information).

Regarding my writing and what I publish on Medium, many of my articles are related to the history that is addressed in my documentaries. I have also shared personal essays and short fiction. I grew…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The days went by, and Maggie became used to the rounds of activity required to keep house for a family of the Brown’s wealth. After waking early to start the fires, she ate breakfast with Cook. Then Maggie was busy with sweeping, beating dust out of the rugs, polishing silver, washing and ironing, and dozens of other tasks. Her pallet had been moved to an attic room, where every night she fell quickly into a deep sleep.

Maggie experienced a sense of wonderment that there was plenty of bread, some hard cheese, and vegetables at every meal. She even had…

Wolcott, Marion Post, photographer. Negro wagehand purchasing groceries after being paid off on Saturday in plantation store. Mileston Plantation, Mississippi Delta. Nov. 1939 Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2017801702/>. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. The contents of the Library of Congress Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives are in the public domain and are free to use and reuse.

The expression on the man’s face is impassive. We do not know his name, but we can surmise his feeling: He knew he must be cautious, especially in the presence of a European American woman. He lived in Mississippi, a state where 654 lynchings were committed between 1877 and 1950 . African American men were often the victims of false accusations of sexual assault against European American women, and the lynchings that resulted terrorized the whole community.

The shopkeeper is smiling self-consciously. She may be flustered by the attention of the visiting photographer, but we don’t know for certain. All…

Linda Hoover working with a colt, picture courtesy of Linda Hoover/ Cornerstones LLC

“However you show up in life, you show up with horses. How do you teach someone who is passive to become a leader to her horse?” Linda Hoover poses this rhetorical question while reflecting on horsemanship and life. It reflects her passionate interest in helping her students to develop an awareness of what is important to horses. She observes that we take lessons that teach us to keep our heels down, but “when do we learn how to observe our horses?”

For three decades, Hoover has been working to fill this gap for her amateur students. She notes that the…

Photo by Stephen Phillips — Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Dear Mr./Ms. Spammer,

Frankly, I am astonished that anyone opens your emails. I am sure I speak for many of my peers when I say we don’t need color business cards or CBD lotion, and we know that the deposed ruler of an obscure country does not really need our help. If you expect anyone to read your messages, I suggest you take a fresh look at our real concerns. Some marketers suggest that empathy is the key to selling stuff to moms, who make the majority of spending decisions for their households.

Image by Lucie Hosova on Unsplash

When I am bestride him, I soar; I am a hawk; he trots the air.”

-Shakespeare, King Henry V

When six-year-old Kayla (not her real name) rushes up to kiss Butterball on the nose, she isn’t thinking about the fact that he was selected because he is an unusually gentle horse. Once she is happily in the saddle, she isn’t aware that she is improving her core strength. As she chats away to her instructor, Kayla doesn’t notice that she is producing words more easily than at other times. During the time that she spends at her therapeutic riding…

Photo by Vivian Arcidiacono on Unsplash

The week after Sonia’s talk with Miss Sarah, she returned to the stable on Tuesday as always. Sonia didn’t miss a lesson if she could possibly help it, and waited expectantly for her turn. But something was wrong, she did not see Willow trotting patiently around the ring with the beginner girl who always rode in the lesson before hers. In fact, she could not see Willow anywhere in the ring.

The instructor was holding the reins of a small mare when she called Sonia over. The mare’s roan coat made her a tawny peach color.

“You’ll be riding Sugar…

Illustration published in Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper, 1866 Oct. 20, p. 72. Subjects: Rice culture on Cape Fear River, N.C. / from sketches by James E. Taylor. Library of Congress, Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. Call Number: Illus. in AP2.L52 Case Y[P&P]

This story is inspired by a road that is named for the Hermitage plantation, which was located eight miles north of Wilmington, NC. The Hermitage was one of several plantations owned by John Burgwin (1731–1803). A wealthy English merchant, Burgwin inherited the plantation from his first wife, Margaret Marsden Haynes, who was the granddaughter of English pastor Richard Marsden. Burgwin was one of the largest enslavers in the Cape Fear region. In 1790 alone, Burgwin is listed as enslaving 81 people, and (as we shall see) the evidence suggests he took their work and loyalty for granted.

Europeans first laid…

Picture by Claudia Stack

Some people love cars, some people love clothes. And some people will do anything for retired Thoroughbred racehorses. Once, I spent my last dime on a goat that was supposed to be a good companion for my high-strung mare. (For the record, my mare never cared about the goat, so all that happened was that the goat ate my only rosebush.)

I grew up in New York City in the 1970s, the child of a struggling single mom, so owning a horse was certainly never in the realm of possibility back then. However, I walked dogs and cleaned houses for…

Claudia Stack

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