The Grand dramatic offering of Booker T. Washington Colored Grammar School was the biggest event of the year in our social life in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Miss LaPrade called it “a modern morality play of conflict between the forces of good and evil.” And the forces of evil, of course, always came off second best.
They were always light-skinned. And though nobody ever discussed those things openly, it was an accepted fact that a lack of pigmentation was a decided advantage in the Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty sweepstakes. But I could never be Prince Charming, because I was black.
Everything had gone well for me too—except for one spot in the second act. That was where Leonardius unexpectedly rapped me over the head with his sword as I slunk off into the shadows. Rat said Leonardius did it on purpose.
His astonishment lasted only a minute, though, for he lowered his head and came charging in, fists flailing.
When the curtain rang down, the forces of Good and Evil were locked in combat. And Sleeping Beauty was wide awake and streaking for the wings. They rang the curtain back up fifteen minutes later, and we finished the play.
They wouldn’t let me appear in the grand dramatic offering at all the next year. But I didn’t care. I couldn’t have been Prince Charming anyway.