As I read in the Miami Herald on Sunday of the atrocities of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, a lump formed in my throat, growing bigger with each paragraph.
In 1968, as a 10-year-old, I and two others became involved in mischief involving theft of pens from our teacher’s desk. Such incidents usually teach honesty vs. dishonesty, the peril of my dishonesty demonstrated by several heavy whacks to my shamefully exposed backside.
One of my co-conspirators was inconsolable, crying that now his parents were going to “send him away to Marianna.” The dread and fear in his voice I will never forget.
I realize today how much more endangered I was than he to suffer that fate.
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Had I continued astray, my widowed mother would have been powerless to stop an insistent law-enforcement official from sending me away to “straighten me out.”
To the people of Jackson County: These families have a right to bring closure to their grief and you as a community will be better served to face the fact that some of you were complicit in the evils of this place.
W. Robert Smith, III, Miami Shores