SARAH BUTLER: Tender Loving Care

I stand on the dormitory steps with my suitcase in my hand. Why didn’t I pay more attention? In 1965 being the only white student at historically black Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, keeps me busy. I go to class, do my homework, participate in the Human Relations Council, talk with folks about the Civil Rights Movement and write letters home. I didn’t heed the announcement that Coppin Hall, the girls’ dorm, would be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. And here I am on the street wondering what to do. It’s cold and the wind whips around me. I haven’t got a coat; I thought it was always hot in South Carolina.

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Sarah Butler – My Home Away From Home

My Hispanic girlfriend laments, “You are so white.” In a black community I do stand out. In 1965 and at eighteen, except for college, I have never been away from home more than a week. Certainly not three thousand miles away. Not for an entire summer. Not living in a segregated black community. Not working in the Civil Rights Movement. Bold, surviving on adrenaline, I’m also a kid – lonely and afraid.

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