When I started school in Virginia in 1968, the public schools in my county were still segregated by race. When our school board finally began complying with Brown vs. Board of Education , a group of parents decided to start an all-white private school. They showed up in our driveway one evening to convince my parents to join them. My father — a white factory worker and a son of the brutally segregated South — sent them away unhappy. Years later I asked him what he'd told them. "I told them you and your sister had to learn to live in the world," he said. "And I told them the world wasn't going to be all white."