High Hopes for Addy

Short story collection published in 2006; author Connie Porter; illustrator Gabriela Dellosso, Renee Graef, Susan McAliley, Dahl Taylor, John Thompson, and Jane Varda


Things are changing quickly for the Walker family. With the three adults working and Addy collecting tips delivering dresses, they have enough money to move from the boarding house to an apartment. Though she'll miss being just upstairs from the boarding house residents, Addy's excited for the breathing room the apartment will allow. Esther looks up to her big sister, and often gets into Addy's things in hopes of imitating her, sometimes damaging them. Addy's looking forward to doing her school in peace, especially when Miss Dunn reveals that she's recommending Addy and Harriet to the Institute for Colored Youth, where Addy can learn to be a teacher. However, when she and Harriet congratulate each other on reaping the fruits of their hard work, Addy learns the school costs ten dollars a year (more than two months' wages for her family), more than her family can afford. She stuffs the letter about it into her school bag, not wanting to let her family know, and tries to not be jealous of Harriet, who truly isn't rubbing anything in--she can't because Addy hasn't revealed she's not going--when she talks about how wonderful the school will be.

So Addy is stunned when her parents announce to the boarding house residents that they're staying until the end of the year, to save money so they can send Addy to ICY. Esther found the letter when she went through Addy's things, and gave it to her parents. They're so proud of their daughter that they think nothing of waiting on the apartment for bit, to give her such an opportunity. Addy hugs her sister, grateful this time for Esther's hero-worship.

Looking Back

The Institute for Colored Youth was the best place for black children to get an education. Students started at eleven, and continued through high school. They learned many things that would help them in their future lives, from teaching to trades. Fanny Jackson Coppin was the principal from 1869 to 1902, an impressive feat for not only a former slave, but also a woman (remember women couldn't vote until about two decades after she retired). In the first year under her leadership, the number of girls enrolled in ICY doubled. Coppin encouraged the students to pass their knowledge on to others, especially by becoming teachers in the South, where slaves found themselves suddenly free but with no education, surrounded by a war-torn region steeped in poverty (most of the fighting was in the South). She was an inspiration for countless students.


My short story collection once belonged to an Amanda C., who signed her name on August 29, 2006. I'd been married for almost two weeks at that point.

"If one wants to learn a thing, teach it to another." I love that sentiment from Coppin.

There's a subplot about kite flying, where Addy tries not to be jealous of Harriet's store-bought kite compared to the dingy one her father helped her build. Her kite flies better than Harriet's, who graciously congratulates Addy and asks for advice on kite-flying, which Addy just as graciously offers.


Anonymous said...

The ICY is still in operation today as Cheyney University outside of Philadelphia.


SJSiff said...

That's great! Good institution to keep around.