Devonshae Harrien-Love, Pray and Respect
February has been designated nationally as Black History Month. It is a time that should be used to reflect on the past and look toward the future. Many changes have taken place in the U.S. and especially rural Mississippi because of the efforts of those who were willing to sacrifice all for the freedoms of future generations so they would never have to face the struggles their grandparents and parents faced. The generation that placed the “whites only” signs over businesses and restrooms are dying out as are those who experienced that exclusion and a new generation has risen who find co-existence and equal opportunities commonplace and expected.
Devonshae Herrien states her grandparents were well aware of the struggle for equality. After her father died at a young age grandparents Reedus and Gussie McLeod assisted her widowed mom take care of the children and were instrumental in instilling in her educational goals. She is grateful that she has reaped the benefits that those in the civil rights movement fought so hard to win and tries to pass that encouragement along to the students of her home in Jeff Davis County.
A Bassfield native, Herrien is Director of Curriculum for the Jeff Davis County School District and as she speaks her voice reflects her affection for her 1600 “babies.”
“From a personal aspect I realize what the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education has meant for me. I have never had to deal with the “white only” issues my grandparents did and my friendships go beyond color. Now being an educator I wish more of our own children would take pride in their heritage, realize how much their ancestors gave for them and strive to be the best they can be. Our children of all colors deserve the best. I hope and pray parents will push them and children will take pride to be their very best, get an education and come back one day, as I have, to give back to the community where their roots are.”
Herrien received her BA from the University of Southern Mississippi and her Masters degree from William Carey. Though she stayed close to home she states she realizes it is necessary for some to leave the state but hopes they will eventually come back to help the future generation like those before them have.
“Does the media need to show so much bad from that era? I think we need to know the bad in order to appreciate the good now but we also need to remember there were both black and white freedom fighters that worked together for equal rights. There are still strides that need to be made but mostly we should love and respect each other more. Love, pray and respect—three things that will significantly improve our lives. We do what we can but sometimes it is out of our control and that is where the praying comes in.”