One Friday Morning

One Friday Morning
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  • What color do you want the frame for your painting to be?
  • Blue!
  • It was just a simple scene in the city park on a spring day with the trees still leaflessly lacy against the sky, the new grass fresh and green, a flag on a tall pole in the center, children paying, and an old Negro woman sitting on a beach with her head turned.
  • Perhaps she had banged her locker too often and too hard. perhaps the note in french she had written to Sallie halfway across the study hall just for fun had never gotten to Sallie but into Miss O'Shay's hands instead. Or maybe she was failing in some subject and wouldn't be allowed to graduate. Chemistry!
  • Nancy Lee, your picture has won the Artist Club Scholarship.
  • I was just telling Nancy Lee what we thought of her. But I hadn't gotten around to giving her the news. Perhaps, Miss Dietrich, you'd like to tell her yourself. 
  • Judges and members of the Artist Club. I want to thank you for this award that means so much to me personally and through me to my people, the colored people of this city who, sometimes are discouraged and bewildered, thinking that color and poverty are against them
  • But there have never been any Negro students in the local art school, and the presence of one there might create difficulties for all concerned. We hace high regard for the quality of Nancy Lee Johnson's talent, but we do not feel it would be fair to honor it with the Artist Club award."
  • "It seems to us wiser to arbitrarily rotate the award among the various high schools of the city from now on. And especially in this case since the student chosen happens to be colored, a circumstances which unfortunately, had we known, might have prevented this embarrassment.
  •  I accept this award with gratitude and pride, not for myself alone, but for my race that believes in American opportunity and American fairness - and the bright start in our flag. I think Miss Dietrich and the teachers who made it possible for me to have the knowledge and training that lie behind this honor you have conferred upon my painting. When I came here from the South a few years ago, I was not sure how you would receive me. You received me well. You have given me a chance and helped me along the road I wanted to follow. I suppose the judges know that every week here at assembly the students of this school pledge allegiance to the flag. I shall try to be worthy of that pledge, and of the help and friendship and understanding of my fellow citizens of whatever race or creed, and of our American dream of 'Liberty and justice for all!"
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