Bernadette Whitsett Hammond

As I said, I started off playing the clarinet when was in elementary school at Jefferson and played the clarinet through McGuffey, Jefferson, Walker, and it was just the expectation that I would continue in the band when I got to Lane High School.  And I kind of knew the history of the band at Lane because I had a cousin who attended Lane High School, [Adolphus?] Page, who was one of my cousins who didn’t go back to Burley.  He stayed at Lane, and he endured a lot of mistreatment.  There are some horror stories there that he could tell you.  But, in any event, he was not allowed to perform with the band.  He could be in the band, but he could not perform with the band.  So, my aunt and uncle -- Aunt [Helen?], Uncle [Dee?] -- they were at the school board office, talking with the superintendent, fighting the good fight about that.  So, I knew there were issues, and it was the same band director there when all this was going on who was also there when I came along.  And I had hoped that things had gotten somewhat better, and they had gotten somewhat better, but the band was the type of system where you had to practice regularly, get points for practicing regularly, and you had chairs, and you would play, I guess, probably once a week or once a mo-- and you would be situated in a seat.  If you were the best, you’d be the first chair, whatever.  Well, the Black students who were in -- I will say in the band during my time, none of them were going to be first chair.  That just was not going to happen.  And, after kind of seeing that and realizing that was not going to be a very positive experience for me, I begged my mother, ”Could I drop out of band?”  And she knew the history.  Also knew other parents who were having issues with this same situation, and she said, ”Yes.”  And I said, ”Well, I’d like to get involved with the newspaper.”  And so, I ended my last two years of high school working with the Lane Times.