“We Are Not Quitters”


Ty'Sheoma Bethea (Washington Post)

“…And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.

I am so glad that President Obama took time in last night’s speech to Congress to recognize Ty’Sheoma Bethea and to quote from her letter (.pdf file) about the horrible conditions of her school in Dillon, SC. I admire her determination, and her strength of character, and I am grateful that this country has a President who acknowledges her aspirations. Read the full text of the president’s speech and a local article on Bethea’s appearance, or if you are so inclined: order the t-shirt.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. So touching a letter from a child that will move even the hardest mind. Happy to note that President Obama made mention of this letter. Wonderful indeed.

    Gopal G.


  2. Posted by Liza on March 4, 2009 at 8:09 AM

    I have thought about this a lot in the past week, listening to my older daughter complain about having to go to school. She goes to a good public school – good teachers, good library, all the advantages. And yet she says she hates it and wishes she didn’t have to go – it’s like punishment for being a kid.

    It makes my blood boil to hear her complain, knowing that so many children would do anything to be able to attend her school. I’ve thought about arranging a swap. Kidding, of course, but sheesh.


  3. @Goapal and Liza: Reading that letter is definitely a humbling experience and makes me put my own situation in perspective as well. I can’t imagine trying to learn in a classroom with a train barreling by all day. Thanks for the comments.


  4. Posted by jo on March 4, 2009 at 9:09 PM

    ty’sheoma’s letter is just about the best letter i have ever read. this kid is gonna go far far far. if i had half the grit she has, i’d be leader of the world.


  5. Thank you for your reply. Since reading about you, my mind is constantly hovering around you to note that at a such young age, you have become a world-famour child to come to the attention of President Obama.


  6. Posted by Fern on April 22, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    I would really love to read the letter, but the link doesn’t seem to work any more. Does anyone know where I can find it now? Thank you!


  7. Oh no! I’m so sorry Fern, it appears that The State newspaper is no longer hosting that link. I’ll keep looking and if I find anything I’ll post the new source. Thank you for letting me know!


  8. Posted by mrw on June 26, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    I liked your post.

    It makes me recall my past life as a college admissions counselor. I visited all types of schools, and in all types of communities. But, my most memorable visits were to schools such as the one Ty’Sheoma attends, and meeting students like her. There were students who attended schools which were beyond my imagination re: the deplorable conditions. But, one thing was true: those students were as bright, talented, goal-oriented as those in the wealthiest community and the most exclusive prep school. However, they also had hope, and the dedicated teachers who worked with them loved their students.


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