Tag Archives: Ron McNair

Am I A Black Person?

John Henry checked out a book from the library called “Ron’s Big Mission.”   Before he began to read the book aloud to me, I was not quite prepared to have a discussion on America’s past history of segregation.  But, it was time.  I am sure.

The book is based on the true story of Ron McNair who, as a child, was an avid reader and loved to read books about airplanes.  Growing up in South Carolina in the 50’s and 60’s was not exactly easy for any black child.  Especially a black boy who simply wanted to check out books from his local whites only public library. 

Until one day, Ron decided he wasn’t leaving the library until he was a card holder.  His mother was called, police officers showed up, and Ron stood his ground still.  As a result, Ron changed a piece of history and became the first black person to check out books from that library.

Talk about a lion chaser.

John Henry, of course, asked a lot of questions.  A lot of surprising questions.

“Am I a black person?” he asked. 

“No, baby, you are a white person.”

At this point in the conversation, I realized he had never identified people belonging to different races.  So, I asked him what he thought when he saw someone with dark skin. 

“I just thought their skin was darker.  That is all.  I kind of have dark skin, so I am really kind of white and black.”  He told me. 

“Sure.  You are white and black,” I assured him. 

I was not about to disappoint him.  I taught him about the days of segregation.  I explained where we were as a nation during those times and where we are now.  Honestly, it was a difficult, but necessary conversation. 

We then read a little more on the life of Ron McNair.  This 9-year old hero grew up to be an even greater American hero.  This little boy who loved airplanes became a pilot.  And, on January 28, 1986, he lost his life as an astronaut during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

I hope John Henry not only learned something about the significance of civil rights.  I also hope he learned about what it means to stand up for something he believes in.  And, what it really means to be a lion chaser.


Ron McNair
October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986

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