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Local Musician Tells Students of City's Segregated Past

Vinny St. Marten talks about navigating prejudice in Glen Cove as a child as he lost his sight.

Vinny St. Marten visited Glen Cove High School this week to tell students about his experience growing up in the Orchard section of Glen Cove during segregation in the 1950's.

The lesson served as a culmination of the school's lessons for Black History Month.

St. Marten lost his vision to glaucoma at age seven. A boy named Walter was assigned to help him get around school during the day and the two became close, St. Marten said, despite many prejudiced attitudes around them.

"I heard it, felt it and unfortunately was a part of it," he said. 

Subjected to ridicule because of his blindness, and Walter because of his race, St. Marten praised Walter's perseverence.

He spoke about the advantages of not being able to see what others were being so distracted by.

"I wouldn't give up my blindness for anything in the world," St Marten said.

He taught Walter to speak Italian, and Walter taught him how to play baseball without his vision.  

"He taught me how to do things I never thought I could do," he said.

He stressed that prejudice hurt not only people of color, but has an impact on society as a whole.

St. Marten is front man for The Seeing Eye Dog Band.

The program was attended by juniors and seniors taking a class about participation in government and economics. It was coordinated by assistant principal Sheryl Goodine.

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