Culture Writing

What I saw, what I did…

Today, Crystal Washington tells us about her harrowing life as a Human Rights activist in the very segregated city of St. Louis, MO.  She became an educator in 2000 and the violations of children she witnessed while teaching led her to her dedication of ending segregated schools.  She had lost four jobs from fighting for students. She also lost a job after fighting off sexual advances from the President of the Board at one school.  She filed three complaints with Government commissions complaining of harassment after reporting violations. 

Crystal’s community service included one city election, NAACP prison committee, many campaign positions and several grass root fights.  The author of White Shirt, she describes her life growing up in the streets of most dangerous city in the United States for nine years straight, St. Louis, MO.

 What I saw, what I did

I had just been wrongfully fired from my third school after reporting inappropriate relationships between adult staff members and teenage students.  A distant family member moved across the street.  Well, she was the cousin of a cousin.  One day I looked outside and her car was gone and the house was full of young boys whom I had watched grow up in the neighborhood.  They were hanging out the window, calling more guys into the house saying they were about to have a slumber party.  Although I didn’t know what that meant at the time, something didn’t seem right. 

Later I found that slumber party was slang for sex party.  I called my then friend, who was also a cousin of the parent and told her what I was seeing.  Then I went to the house and ordered the guys out the house.  Later, her male relatives came and got the girls from the house.  I landed another teaching job and eventually filed a complaint against them for sexual harassment after the president of the board demanded I have sex with him or else.  The woman whose daughter I had saved from the gang began to harass me.  She had been telling people I lied on her daughter.  I called the police and they were not able to help.  I began to argue back.  One day, the woman attempted to attack me and I called the police.  The police woman refused to put my account in the report because she was obviously friends with the other woman.  I went and spoke with her supervisor and she was told to put my statement in the report.  But she in addition put in the report that I was combative.  She did this out of spite because I went to her supervisor.  This woman’s family began harassing me and some were men, therefore I applied for a restraining order. 

The woman counter applied and hers was granted because the judge was on her side after he read I was combative in the report.  The harassment got worse and eventually I abandoned my house in fear.  A couple days after I left, one of her brothers murdered a woman and wounded an off duty policeman in a home invasion.  I rented a house, whilst unemployed. I struggled. This was when I edited my book and sub – titled it, “Why is society arresting the harmless”? 

I landed another job and published my book. 

While working at my new job in East St. Louis, I learned that teenage girls were being prostituted at the school.  There really was no one to report it to because staff, including the director and founder of the school had shared these things with me.  However, when staff started making sexual comments to students in front of me, I complained.  I ended up unemployed again.  However this time it was worse because I was denied unemployment.  My car was repossessed and I was forced to move back into my house.  I lived without water for a while until the urban league paid my bill.  I ran for office with absolutely no money and witnessed unbelievable voter fraud, racketeering and other corruption.  I raised a couple hundred dollars but it was a great experience just fighting back. 

 I worked with the NAACP prison committee and was dismissed after I refused to stop helping a complainant whose lawyer came and caused a conflict of interest.  She had bragged to her lawyer that she had the NAACP helping her and the lawyer who was violating her rights created a conflict of interest by volunteering for the first time after working in the office building with the NAACP for decades.

The woman across the street began to harass me again and I admit I responded. Eventually she set me up and I was hospitalized after being beat up by fifteen people.  I had rib fractures but was forcefully pulled out a wheel chair by security because I had no insurance.  I marched for Anna Brown, months later.  She died after being arrested at the hospital for trespassing as she had no insurance.  Now I’m living at a hotel praying for help.


You can view a sample of White Shirt at:

The book can be purchased at:


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