The Booker Project


Classmates and Community Members

Classmates who attended The Youngstown College and community members

Reflections

Students from the Composition class reflected on how Simeon Booker has affected them

Caitlin Worley

Caitlin Worley

Dear Mr. Booker, My entire life I have lived in the little town of Middlebury, Ind. Coming to Youngstown State University, my eyes have been opened to challenges and situations I have never seen before. It’s not even as if these challenges are directly mine. Middlebury is an upper-class area with little to no poverty. When I first arrived to school at Youngstown, I hated it. I felt as though my parents dropped me off to the worst girl camp ever and left me to fend for myself. Little did I realize, Youngstown was exactly what I needed. In class, we read an article about you’re bravery and impact on the Civil Rights Movement. I also learned how African Americans were not given activity cards at Youngstown College. This was a huge injustice as I am sure you know. After learning more about your work in class discussions, my mind has been opened to the injustices that are still around today, so – “Thank you.” I am studying to...

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Michael Wittman

Michael Wittman

Dear Mr. Booker, Welcome back Mr. Booker; we appreciate you being here. Your name – Simeon Saunders Booker Jr. – may not be mentioned as often as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but in terms of importance to the Civil Rights Movement of the last century, your name and King’s rank are very near to one another. Several of my classmates and I in the Composition I course at Youngstown State University spent a few weeks reading and researching your life and work. As a member of the millennial generation
and a large supporter of racial equality,
I cannot offer enough gratitude to you
for your years of work in journalism and
for helping bring down the wall of racial
segregation. I’m sure that I am just one of many who feel this way. I’m sure that the victims of racial attacks that you wrote about in stories in Jet and Ebony magazines are grateful that their horrific experiences did not go undocumented. Your will to shed light on stories of abuse...

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John Veauthier

John Veauthier

Dear Mr. Booker, Everyone just loves my husband, Fred, and me. Together we paint a portrait of 21st century Americana. We are proud to own a little yellow Cape Cod, smack dab in the center of Boardman, OH. With two dogs, full-time jobs and college life, we traded our nightlife for domestication and studies; we have also become excellent knitters. Today, Freddy and I celebrated two years of marriage, which is no small accomplishment in this day and age of 36-hour Las Vegas marriages. All in all, our life together does not sound much different from most Americans. However, my husband and I are not legally wed. According to the ring on my finger and his last name attached to my first, one would think that we have the major ingredients for a binding marriage arrangement. Sadly, if we want to make it official, we have to move away from the very place we have always called home and now together have made a home. It was two years...

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Justin Passaro

Justin Passaro

Dear Mr. Booker, My name is Justin Passaro and I am a freshman at Youngstown State University. Through my writing class, I have learned much about you and your work. Mr. Booker, words cannot describe how much of a positive impact learning about you has had on me. You fought for what you believed in with dedication, bravery and an outstanding work ethic. Although, out of all your great work, the
1963 March on Washington is what really
made me a fan for life. Knowing there
was potential for violence, showing no
hesitation, you remained dedicated to
your work by doing what you knew was
right. I honestly feel that not many other
people could have followed through with their work in that situation. I truly believe that your work played a very substantial role in the progress of civil rights. That progress needs to continue though. As you said before, “This is just the end to the beginning.” I am also a firm believer that the people of America, as a whole, must come together...

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Jessica Marsico

Jessica Marsico

Dear Mr. Booker, America, as we all know, is a nation formed by the diverse minds of our founding fathers, but changed by influential people fighting for a cause. Throughout history, there have been standout people and events that have forever changed the course of our country. Abraham Lincoln’s work against slavery, Elizabeth Stanton’s struggle for women’s rights, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, and your work, Mr. Booker, for exposing injustice and advancing the Civil Rights Movement. I would be lying if I were to say that I understand what you endured. No person, especially no white woman living today, could ever understand the injustices and violence that African Americans had to face. What I can say though is that you have my most sincere gratitude for the passion and determination you brought to your work. Changing people’s mind was only the beginning of this massive movement, changing the ways of the nation was the optimal goal. This goal was accomplished, I believe, in large measure, due...

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Lena Bruce

Lena Bruce

Dear Mr. Booker, I have read a lot of articles about your life and some passages from your book. When I was younger, I never felt the undercurrent of racism of our world. Then I listened to my 69-year-old father talk about living in Philadelphia during the days of segregation and serving in the Vietnam War, when he was ridiculed and bashed. I now understand what a hard place it was for African-Americans in that time period. Your stories and also my father’s made me value how so much has changed. Yet I worry if Americans’ mindset about civil rights in general is slowly atrophying because we think a paper that tells us we have rights makes us free. I fear that we African Americans have become lazy in our efforts to create change. Some of us think that because we have an African- American president we don’t have to work as hard anymore. Before we had President Obama, we had the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, Malcolm...

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Wanda Baker

Wanda Baker

Dear Mr. Booker, As I sit looking at a picture of an attentive, well-dressed young male black journalist at the Emmett Till murder trial, I was filled with pride and appreciation for your 51 years of dedication and service to the field of journalism during a painful time in our country’s history. Your articles uncovered and exposed America to a world of hatred, discrimination and murders. It took great courage. The instructor of our
Composition I class knew
of your legacy and ties
to Youngstown College
and our community and
believed that yours was a
story that we needed to read
and discuss. I was shocked
to learn about the denial
of activity cards to black
students, which would allow them to participate in social functions on campus. I can only imagine the loneliness, degradation and separation that would drive you to move and attend another university. When I walk across the campus of Youngstown State University taking pictures, I will be reminded that I enjoy these privileges because of courageous people who paved the way. The next time...

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Sara Rodino

Sara Rodino

Dear Mr. Booker, Your life story has educated, moved and inspired me. After researching your respected efforts to expose racism in this country, I have reached an important crossroad in my life: I am going to stand up for what I believe in despite the opinions of others. As long as I can remember, I have known of the existence of racial discrimination in this country. I learned about Martin Luther King Jr. in grade school, and tried to imagine, with little success, how difficult his struggle. Not until I learned of your story, though, has this issue really hit home for me. I believe this is because much of your time working was spent right here in my hometown, so I can better relate. I have grown up with two
racist parents. They never
directly told me to dislike
people based on their race, it
was done more so in passing.
They would make comments
such as, “Oh, was he black?”
and “Yah, that’s how ‘they’
are.” Deep inside, I have
always known that way of
thinking about...

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