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A De-Segregated Life

Shawn Casselberry is Executive Director of Mission Year. He has served on the staff team since 2003. He is a popular speaker and has shared at events and schools, including Missions Fest Vancouver, Gatlinburg Missions Conference, Asbury University, and Mission Year Trainings. You can follow him on Twitter or read more of his blog posts.

My first time on the other side of the segregation line happened in fifth grade. My dad had transferred churches so we moved to a new city in central Florida. The school board had just been sued for remaining segregated even though the law demanded the schools integrate. That is the sneaky thing about race (or gender, or class), just when you change the laws to bring us together; people are always finding ways to stay segregated. But my first time going on the other side of the tracks planted the seeds that would later lead me and my wife to relocate to the other side of the segregation line.

The racial divide was heavy in our city. You could feel it at school, in the community, and at church. We were in the same city yet occupied two different worlds. Riding the bus into Oakland, the black part of town, I saw dilapidated apartment buildings, heavy policing, signs of concentrated poverty, and years of disinvestment. Even though I didn’t fully comprehend the racial disparities, I saw that this part of town was disadvantaged while the white side of town had the banks, businesses, and resources.

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