Marguerite attends an integrated high school, where she is one of only three black students. Here she meets Mrs. Kirwin, a highly intelligent and caring white educator who has a great influence on Marguerite—she doesn’t treat Marguerite as though she is different from anyone else, even though Marguerite is from the south and is black. Marguerite performs well and gets a scholarship to California Labor School, a progressive high school program designed for especially talented and motivated students in economics and the arts. She continues to excel in her regular classes, and elects to take drama and dance classes in the evening, fulfilling her love for spoken poetry and performance.
Mrs. Kirwin is one of Marguerite’s first white mentors. She is a dedicated educator who doesn’t coddle or spoil Marguerite; she simply treats her as equal to the other (white) students. Mrs. Kirwin is another vital figure in Marguerite’s intellectual and literary career. Marguerite’s success allows her to attend a progressive integrated high school program—an especially unusual opportunity for a black female student in that time.