Lodrick opened a small shop in Marion. He also became an outspoken advocate for civil rights. Because of this, on March 10, 1935, the Ku Klux Klan set fire to his family’s home.
Lodrick was not present. But Pearl, Lodrick Jr., then 16, and his younger siblings Ulysses, 4, and Marguerite, 7, were.
To save her children, Pearl told young Lodrick to climb out of the back window. She handed him his younger siblings and told him to flee to the home of their older sister, Lucille.
Pearl was killed in the fire.
When Lodrick Sr. returned home, he found his wife dead. In his grief, he escaped in the middle of the night with his youngest children to Ohio, where much of my paternal family reside today.
They left everything behind — including my great-great grandmother Pearl. The only remembrance of her is a family photo, which Lucille gave my great-grandfather the night they fled West Virginia.
My family’s story provides a proof point of the intersection between race, law, and our collective experience. This fact exists while some within our political ecosystem would rather romanticize our past and shelter our students from this reality.
Their actions threaten our democracy and ill-prepare our students for the interconnected world they’re inheriting. They also stifle the collective healing we need to move toward a more hopeful and promising future.
The recent efforts to ban critical race theory (CRT) from the K-12 curriculum demonstrate a misunderstanding of what CRT is and why honest, brave, and respectful discussions about race and racism are important.