September 8, 2017

Essay B

In 1967, the first two Black students were enrolled at an all-white private boarding school in Virginia. The main reason they were there? To benefit the white kids.

Photograph from Virginia Episcopal School


Host Ira Glass talks to Mariya Karimjee about a college application essay question. Essay B asks students to imagine a person they might meet in college—someone from a very different background. Ten years ago, Mariya’s mostly white high school classmates in Texas didn’t write about an imaginary person they might meet in the future. They just wrote about the one different person they already knew—Mariya. (15 minutes)

Act One

How to Win Friends and Influence White People

Back in the late 1960s, a wealthy tobacco heiress saw that integration was happening all around the country—except at prep schools in the South. So she set out to find the best Black students in neighborhood public schools—in hopes of teaching the white prep-school students to be less bigoted. Mosi Secret tells the story of how the first two Black students to integrate Virginia Episcopal School succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. (26 minutes)

A version of this story appears in The New York Times Magazine.

Act Two

Act Two

Mosi Secret’s story continues. We find out about a Black student who struggled at VES. And learn what, almost fifty years later, a white student makes of an experiment supposedly undertaken for his benefit. (13 minutes)