My qualifications to write Dawn?
1. J. A. De Laine was my father.
2. I had my father’s papers,
3. He asked me to do it.
4. I did a lot of research.
—Ophelia De Laine Gona
I sometimes think I am masquerading as author of Dawn of Desegregation. However, I am really more like a ghost writer whose name got on the cover of Dawn by mistake.
In the late sixties, my father, the late Reverend J. A. De Laine, wrote a series of articles entitled “Our Part In A Revolution.” Published in the AME Christian Recorder, they were mostly about the origin of the Briggs case. What I did was to extract relevant portions, rework them, and—after a lot of other research—integrate everything before putting it all together in Dawn.
I am the middle child and only daughter of J. A. and Mattie De Laine. Until I was fourteen years old and our family moved to Lake City, I spent my childhood in the small town of Summerton.
When I was a child, South Carolina’s constitution demanded and enforced separation of the races, so I attended segregated schools. For six years, I was a student at Scott’s Branch School. Although my recollections did not provide a primary source for Dawn, my personal knowledge of the physical and social conditions resulting from enforced segregation assisted me in placing events in the proper perspective.
Since leaving South Carolina, I have spent a lot of time in schools. In the earlier years, I studied at Johnson C. Smith University where I earned a BS. The next steps wereearning a MS from Yeshiva University in New York, a MA from City College of New York, and a PhD from City University of New York.
In the course of my life, I have spent much more time—a total of forty-five years—on the other side of the desk as a teacher. Some of that time was in high schools (Brooklyn, NY, and Kumasi, Ghana), the rest was in universities (Montclair State College, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, University of Zimbabwe Medical School, and Henan Medical University in the People’s Republic of China).
I am currently retired and still sit at a desk. My desk is now a computer desk.