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The Dilemma Of David Beckwith

When the young man went looking for a job in the summer of 1969, he found himself embroiled in one of the nation’s most violent social upheavals.

David Beckwith at home today in Vero Beach. “[School desegregation] was brought about with all the delicacy of a wrecking ball,” he says.

David Beckwith at home today in Vero Beach. “[School desegregation] was brought about with all the delicacy of a wrecking ball,” he says.

 In the summer of 1969 David Beckwith, a recent graduate of Old Miss, was not looking to be a part of history. He was just looking for a job.

But, as June turned into August and the weight of one rejection letter after another bore down on him as heavily as the heat in his home town in the Mississippi Delta, he determined that any job would do.

So when an offer came to teach 7th grade history just 10 miles down the road in Leland, Miss., he grabbed it. He thought he would take the position for just one year, during which he would save for graduate school. However, there were no education courses on his resumé, much less a teaching certificate.  And he had taken only one history course in college. But that didn’t seem to bother the school district superintendent. So why should it bother David?

Read the entire article in the May 2010 issue