A Brave Little Cookie-The Orlando Times
With Our Black History, Our Voices Are To Be Heard!
BY DR. BARBARA J. MCLEAN-SMITH
ORLANDO - In 2021 as well as 1964, our Black voices are to be heard relaying the many stories and legacies that have shaped who we are today. Dr. LaVon Wright Bracy, our hometown, “Voter Registration Queen and Advocate” former first lady and co-founder of New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando, Founder of Camp Covenant and The Rio Grande Charter School of Excellence, to name a few, has one of those voices. She is a living legend as to the struggles Black people and students, especially, faced before The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and during the school desegregation era. Unfortunately, the state of Florida, and most especially, North Florida in the Gainesville area were not adhering to the school desegregation mandate.
Dr. Bracy has spent her entire adult life trying to equalize the many disparities found among people of color. She, first, faced personal discrimination when her father, a civil rights icon, the Rev. Thomas A. Wright of Gainesville enrolled her in the then “all white” 12th grade of Gainesville High School (GHS). Her experiences and mistreatment at GHS are the foundation of all that she does today in making sure our voices are heard. The ill-will and mistreatment of being beaten, spat upon, harassed and left without anyone to talk with while at school and left alone to fend for herself has built a resolve that makes her say “I will never be silenced again.” The isolation and silence she encountered were deafening. Through it all, without pomp and circumstance, in 1965, although she did not want to attend the graduation ceremony, her mother insisted; Dr. Bracy graduated from Gainesville High School quietly; went on to attend Fisk University then University of Miami where she earned her doctorate. Within the walls and halls of both universities, she was known as an advocate for social justice and voter registration advocate. She was known to approach any leader at the school or in the community to make sure they were aware of and would put forth all effort to correct the inequalities faced by Black students and especially potential Black voters. In 2019 and 2020, Dr. Bracy was about the business of getting high school students registered to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Dr. Bracy is the author of three books, her first, Making them Whole (1990) her second, Beyond Bravery (2012) which relays a first-person account of the harassment she encountered when the white students had “placed dead snakes, rats, roaches and tacks in her seat almost every day”. In spite of it all, she persevered. Her most recent work is entitled “A Brave Little Cookie” (2019) and is a children’s book telling Dr. Bracy’s personal and true story of discrimination, segregation and bullying that she experienced in her early years. The book highlights what it was like for Black people, children in particular in the times of “Jim Crow” and the “civil rights era”. The book is a must read for all age groups; children and early teens will especially enjoy the clarity of the story along with illustrations that the book portrays.
Dr. Bracy has read her book to audiences at several local elementary and middle schools; she has given mini lectures to high schoolers; each presentation was well received by students, teachers and staff alike. Her goal is to get A Brave Little Cookie in all schools’ libraries and media centers giving access to young people. She plans to expose her story to as many children as possible who may not know the not so old history of inequality and social disparity. Books may be purchased in hard cover, softback and may be purchased as an e-book from www.bravelittlecookie.com.