The Integration of Tuskegee High School- Full Performance
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The Integration of Tuskegee High School- Full Performance

♫ I’m gonna sit at ♫ The welcome table ♫ I’m gonna sit at the welcome table ♫ One of these days ♫ Hallelujah ♫ I’m gonna sit at ♫ The welcome table ♫ I’m gonna sit at the welcome table ♫ One of these days ♫ I’m gonna sit at ♫ The welcome table ♫ I’m gonna sit at the welcome table ♫ One of these days ♫ Hallelujah ♫ I’m gonna sit at ♫ The welcome table ♫ I’m gonna sit at the welcome table ♫ One of these days ♫ I’m gonna be ♫ A registered voter ♫ I’m gonna be a registered voter ♫ One of these days ♫ Hallelujah ♫ I’m gonna be ♫ A registered voter ♫ I’m gonna be a registered voter ♫ One of these days ♫ – Tuskegee was a unique and phenomenal place to grow up because although it was a small town, in many ways it felt like a big city in the sense that lots of people continuously came to Tuskegee. With the university there, it was a mecca of intelligence and intellectual discussion and, you know, very
fervent kinds of discussion about the issues of the day. – Honestly, it was Mayberry. You didn’t sit just at home, you went after school and you would play ’til it was dark. It was almost life in slow motion. Nobody really got in a hurry and everybody knew everybody. My neighborhood was very tight knit. There was just one block that made a little T at the end of it and there must have been 16 of us kids that lived on that block growing up playing together. – I think it was probably one of the best places for a kid to grow up, but we spent a lot of
time outside as kids. We did all kinds of things. We played games and had baseball teams, we went berry-picking, we went bicycle riding. – I was born in Tuskegee February 23, 1946. In fact, I was born at the
area of the base hospital which is right in the Notasulga area. It was right where the
Tuskegee Flying Airmen were. – There was always something to do. I was in Girl Scouts and there was Girl Scout camp during the summer, and swimming, every day we were doing something. – When you grow up in rural community, you have a sense of belonging. It’s a part of you. It belongs to you. We didn’t think nothing about playing with our black friends. It was just something natural and we never thought anything about it. – I was always aware of the segregation of whites and blacks. Church, school, the movies, neighborhoods, and in all social areas. I don’t recall ever interacting
with any black children or talking with any
black adults who were not maids, yard workers, babysitters, or their children. We loved our maid, Louella, and knew to be respectful and kind to her. Her status was apparent,
like mama would not tolerate racial disrespect or jokes. As a child, I remember being saddened by the condition of the Negro quarters and I felt sorry for the children I saw walking to and from those homes. Tuskegee Institute, on the other hand, was a source of pride. The presence of the
Institute made us feel that Tuskegee was a progressive community. It was trying to improve the education and quality
of life for blacks. – I was born in Montgomery, Alabama. There was no hospital in Tuskegee. I attended Tuskegee public schools for grades one through 12 and my mother, Dorothy Jellick Akin, was a teacher there. Everyone called her Miss Dot. – I first moved to Tuskegee in 1958. My dad came back to teach in the electrical construction department. So at the time, I was 10 years old. I turned 11 that year and I was sixth-grader at the Washington public
school in Tuskegee. – My family goes back to the 19th century in Macon County. My father was John Fletcher Segrest, Jr. My mother was Frances Cobb Segrest. Her grandfather was John Massey who was president of the Alabama Conference Female College, which moved to Montgomery to become Huntingdon College in the early part of the 20th century. – Tuskegee was a welcoming, wonderful little aristocratic town. We were told that there were seven black people for every white person at that point. We had a very pleasant relationship with the black community. Although it seemed like
a paternalistic system. They worked for us and
we treated them well. There’s one lady in particular I remember who was our cook. When she was ill, I made a pot of soup and
ran it over to the quarter, the area of town that was primarily inhabited by African-Americans, and fed her soup with a spoon to get her well. And I remember her children. A little boy and a little girl would come to meet her when she got off from work each day. They’d sit on our back steps and sometimes I’d bring
them cookies and milk. We got along well with
everyone in our town including our cook’s children. But I never once thought
to invite them in. – In the summer time,
there were baseball games. there were swimming pools, and we went to summer
school in the morning. Everybody. That was the morning activity. You go to summer school in the morning, you go home, kind of rest, get up, and then you either go swim or the boys played baseball. Yeah, we didn’t sit around too much, but the relationship between the blacks and whites was separate. – Segregation. Segregation was the order of the day when I was permitted to
practice law in Alabama, in September 1954. We were segregated from
the cradle to the grave, from the toilet to the train, from the courtroom to the classroom. Segregated classrooms
were of special concern to African-Americans because the lack of
access to equal education was like a big weight around our necks, always holding us back. During slavery time, of course, it had become illegal in Alabama and elsewhere in the South to teach African-Americans
to read and write. This was largely because of the fear by whites of slave revolts as it was correctly assumed that the more education a slave gained, the more difficult it would be to keep him in bondage. After slavery came separate but equal, one of history’s big lies. The disparity between the
white and African-American educational systems was
huge in every respect. – [Woman] From the
conditions of facilities. – To teachers’ salaries. – From the quality of textbooks. – To the availability of school buses. – From the existence of libraries. – To the length of the school year. – That African-Americans gained education at all under these
circumstances was remarkable. And yet, the thirst for knowledge had always been enormous in our communities. We often built our own schools, sometimes with no help and sometimes with the aid of private or religious philanthropy and whatever public funding we could get. – All of us went to
Chamberlain’s Children’s House. It was an elementary school that was located on Tuskegee’s campus. Most of the education students on campus used that as a training school. Most of the kids were either children of professors on campus or they were children of the people who worked for the VA hospital. It was a very good school with teachers who cared
about your success. They knew you and your family. – We were always taking trips, through reading or film or plays, to other countries. We had wonderful teachers there, wonderful teachers who
really cared about learning and cared about whether or not we were focused and motivated enough to understand the importance of education. So it was a wonderful experience. – You didn’t have a lot
of behavior problems. You went to school and
didn’t dare misbehave because everybody knew one another, the word would get around. – As I look back on it, Tuskegee was a little color conscious and a little elitist in a lot of ways. But at the time you don’t see that. The system of institutional racism taught that light skin was prettier and of greater value than dark skin. The lesson of making
divisions based on skin color was in part played out in
the Tuskegee community. – We had 30% white and 70%
percent black back then. I knew black people all my life, but you had two circles of people. They overlapped, but
there was a difference. People talk about how
idyllic the 50s were, they may have been for some people, but they weren’t seeing the whole picture. – Before I begin my talk with you, I want to ask for a few minutes’ patience while I say something that is on my heart. I want to thank those
home folks from my county who first gave an anxious country boy his opportunity to
serve in state politics. I shall always owe a lot to those who gave me my first opportunity to serve. This is the day of my inauguration as the governor of the state of Alabama and on this day, I feel a deep obligation to renew my pledges, my covenants with you, the people of this great state. Today I have stood where once Jefferson Davis stood and took an oath to my people. It is very appropriate then that from this cradle of the Confederacy, this very heart of the
great Anglo-Saxon Southland that today we sound the drum for freedom, as have our generations of
forebears before us done time and time again through history. Let us rise to the call
of freedom-loving blood that is in us, and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw a line in the dust and toss the government
before the feet of tyranny and I say segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. – Conversations around civil rights were always present in our house. We were very conscious of
the race issues growing up, even as little kids. We would listen to the conversations that my mother and father would have about the Montgomery boycott and the things that were going on there. – Race relations were, of course, I’m coming from the white person’s standpoint, at the time race relations were okay, but they were okay because segregation was okay. – To me there didn’t seem
to be any racial tension between the two different races because we worked together, played together and everything. And I don’t think… Well, nobody really liked
to think about things back in those days. We went to our school, did our thing, and blacks did theirs. We come together after school, do things, talk, have a good time. And I don’t think, well, at least I know I didn’t, back in those days, I was more interested in girls and playing ball, and
being with my friends. It was just something we
didn’t have to deal with. – The only black friends that I had were older guys who worked
at the service station pumping gas, you know. Or we would go and visit my mother’s mother and
father in Chocktaw County. They had a black man and his family who lived on their place, looked after things, and they had kids my age and we would play. You know, when you got through playing in the yard, you didn’t go back into
the house together. When the integration began, race relations began to
be adversely affected, go downhill. A lot of the white people of the community did not have the vision of this is the way it should be and the way it’s going to be, with the exception of a few, such as some visionaries in Tuskegee. Andy Hornsby’s dad was one of them. – My father, Sheriff Preston Hornsby, people respected him and some people feared him. See even though they may have disagreed with him, they didn’t. But by and large, they liked him. He’s extremely personable and they found it hard to dislike him over his views. As sheriff, he hired the
first black deputy sheriff. He just didn’t believe
in mistreating people. He has policies with his deputies that you just don’t automatically hit somebody if they were drunk and said
something inappropriate. He just had a better… Well, he believed in
enforcing the law fairly. – In contrast to other
peaceful policing efforts in Alabama during these turbulent times, Birmingham continues to see clashes between protesters and city officials. This past weekend, over
1500 people were arrested, and firehoses and dogs were used to subdue protesting crowds. Bull Connor, Commissioner
of Public Safety, authorized the use of force. President Kennedy has
spoken with Governor Wallace and is eager for the
situation to be calmed before federal forces may be needed to regain the peace. – Well, at the time, it was just the thought of that if you ever allowed one
black child into the school, your way of life is destroyed forever. The peaceful, calming
systems would be gone. We would have chaos from then on. That was what you heard. We had very fine black
families in our town, but the prevailing view
among the white people was that all the insidious bad things that were perpetuated
in the black community would encompass, certainly encompass the whole. – My mother was a very proud, confident, very smart woman who was in many ways fearless to those kinds of messages. So when we would go into the store like Montgomery Fair to shop, and you would see the water fountains with the signs on them, colored and white, and the bathroom doors
with the signs on them if you could go to the bathroom there. My mother would insist
that we ignore those signs and if we wanted water, whichever water fountain was available, that you use that water fountain. I remember very vividly one day at Montgomery Fair when
my brother was drinking from the white water fountain. – Don’t you see that colored fountain? That is for you. – And my mother said, “First of all, don’t
yell at my son like that. “And the second thing is “my son will drink from any water fountain “he wants to in this store.” – [White Woman] He cannot drink from that. – And my mother said, “Well then our money doesn’t spend here.” And we left. I remember in the car going home just the quiet at first, because we were all trying to absorb what had just happened. And then my mother giving
this wonderful history lesson from Montgomery back to Tuskegee about segregation and
about the law and so forth but telling us that we
were all just as valuable as any other human being. Even though it might not appear so, we had the rights as any other person and we were always to
stand up for those rights. – In Jackson, Mississippi, a member of the segregationist
White Citizens’ Council who broke with his church because of its soft stand against integration was charged Sunday with the ambush killing of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The assailant was widely-known for his outspoken views
against integration and wrote letters to the editors of several newspapers expressing his stand against race mixing. Medgar Evers worked to desegregate schools in Mississippi, particularly the University of Mississippi and also fought for voting rights. He was 37. – The dramatic and violent events in Montgomery and Birmingham seemed a long way from Tuskegee. One night in the early 1960s, my family was surprised to drive by a Ku Klux Klan gathering in the field near the Torch Cafe on highway 29 between Auburn and Tuskegee. My mother was disgusted, my father protected, and we were all very upset. I wondered what kind of men could
be so scary and hateful. – My friend called me. He had a night job of working on the police radio station and he alerted me and I
cut it down pretty quick. Yeah, I cut it down. It was two dummies. It was a black and a white. The white one had a star and a little cowboy gun belt reflecting the sheriff, and the black was his black deputy. And they hung in effigy with a noose over their necks in the city square in Tuskegee. – My mother would do things that you knew were probably not the safe things to do. She would refuse to go to the back door or she wouldn’t buy clothes
at the department store if they wouldn’t allow us
to the use the bathroom. She was a proud woman
who fought the system as best she could. My father, on the other hand, had to endure so much more because he knew that he
would probably face death if he was overtly defiant. Despite all he must have endured, he never allowed us to see his fear and I never saw him subjugate himself. He was a proud black man who tried to live his
truth for his children. He was my hero. – There was unrest among
the people in town. I think they were worried about mixing their children. I guess it had been one way for so long and it had worked in Tuskegee, except it really was not working for the black children. My mother, Dot Aiken, who taught at Tuskegee Public was really never prejudiced. She believed in integration and teaching the children and so she knew what she was going to do. – Even though the US
Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown
versus Board of Education had been on the record since 1954, there was still no public elementary and secondary school
integration in Alabama in 1963. The African-American community in Alabama realized that the most
difficult area to integrate would be the state’s
elementary and high schools. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP spearheaded most of the litigation involving school desegregation in Alabama. The legal strategy was to select forums where there were federal district judges who’d be most likely to follow the law established in Brown
versus Board of Education and rule favorably in these cases. The Middle District of Alabama, Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., even this early in his judicial career had a proven record of following the decisions
of the Supreme Court. He did this at the expense of being socially ostracized by
the white establishment and being severely and unjustly criticized by politicians, the media, and other influential white
institutions and leaders. The home of Judge
Johnson’s mother was bombed and it was assumed that the bombers had meant the device for him, but were confused by the
similarity of his father’s name, and went to the wrong address. Brown versus Board of Education quite simply declares that public education, public segregation, is not equal, never has been equal and never could be, and thus violated the Constitution. Now this decision was welcome by African-Americans as if it were a second emancipation, but there was a catch. Having made its ruling, the court failed to carry and completely spell out how this tremendous change in the social order was to be implemented and enforced by the legislative and executive branches of goverment. Instead the court simply declared that public integration happen with all deliberate speed. – Federal troops escorted
two Negro students into the University of Alabama Tuesday, putting an end to Governor
Wallace’s defiance and sweeping aside the
last symbolic bastion of school segregation in the South. Wallace again was standing
in the schoolhouse door as the Negro students
arrived for the second time. But this time he stepped aside. Wallace nervously reading from a wrinkled piece of paper said. – But for the unwarranted federalization of the National Guard, I would be Commander in Chief. It is a bitter pill to swallow. – The quality of education in the schools was a big topic of discussion. The fact of separate but equal, all of that. And I remember my parents coming home and I was talking about Birmingham and Little Rock being on the television and played out over and over again. And I remember my parents talking about the fact that there was
a segregated high school in our own community, and that was Tuskegee High School. We just knew we were not allowed to go to that school because of some law that existed, but this again led to much discussion about the fact that schools
that were segregated were not a good thing because you can learn from differences as well as similarities, and that at some point, that needed to change. – When my oldest brother,
Detroit Lee, Jr., was in elementary school, my father went to attorney Fred Gray because he wanted to file a lawsuit that pushed for the
integration of public schools. He was tired of blacks getting old books and suffering from inadequate materials. He wanted a truly equal school system. However, Attorney Gray and my father decided that the time was not quite right. There was too much other things going on and they wanted to wait
for the perfect time. That time, that time would come
when I was about to enter my senior year of high school. In 1963, Anthony T. Lee et al. v. Macon County Board
of Education was filed. – The Macon County school case began similarly to the other school cases I filed in Alabama, but had some key differences. For one thing, the county population was and is about 85% African-American. For another thing, the county is home to
the Tuskegee Institute, now known as Tuskegee University, founded in 1881. There was well-organized African-American activism in the county in the form of the Tuskegee Civic Association, or TCA. A third big difference is that after the case was filed and the courts ordered
for racial integration for the schools in Macon County, the local white citizens prepared to do so without further struggle. That led to the fourth
and biggest difference, the injection by Governor
George C. Wallace of state politics into
this local school case. On July 16, 1963, Judge Frank Johnson, as was his practice, added the United States
government as a party. Judge Johnson recognized the problem of enforcement of his decrees. He wanted to be sure the
United States government was a party to the action
as the case progressed so that when he entered an order, he could expect the
United States government to enforce it. – Alabama is face to face with the cold reality of
accepting some token integration in four public school systems this fall. Some undoubtedly welcome this step. Still others are
determined to prevent this at all costs. Certainly the majority of Alabamians have reasoned by now that integration is bound to happen. Tuskegee has its orders from a Montgomery federal judge to take immediate steps
towards integration. – A selection committee was formed to select the black students
that would integrate. Meetings were held and the people decided they wanted to have a peaceful integration. It didn’t work out that way though. – My parents asked if
we would be interested in joining this case. And my sister and I readily said “Yes, well, why not?” And that led them to
this escalating movement to join the case of
Lee versus Macon County as part of the plaintiff group. – The community got together and wanted to plan things so there wouldn’t be any problems. It was the white community and the black community, so I guess they were trying to be fairly progressive there also. There was the black community, that was mostly Tuskegee Institute, that was the sort of educated. You’ve always had a schism between the regular folks and the educated black folks because they wanted to present a certain atmosphere, a certain air. So it was a sort of selection committee as to who would be doing the integration of the school. – My mother’s baby brother was one of the first blacks to attend the University of Texas in Austin, and Austin’s where I originally came from, so I think it was kind of her idea that he did this, so Willie can do this too. So when it actually came down to going, I don’t think I was ever officially told by my parents that, “You know, we’ve entered
you into this suit “with Lee versus Macon County “and you’ve been one of the students “that’s been chosen to go.” So it was kind of out of right field. – When it became real to me was the day my mother woke me up and said, “Get up and get dressed,” because I was going to take a test to see if I could get into the school. I remember asking my mother, “Why are we doing this?” And she and my father said that it was to get the opportunity to have the same education as everyone else. I know all three of us, me and my brothers, our reaction was that we didn’t wanna go to that school. But the last thing I wanted to do was to disappoint my parents, so I went in there to take the test, to do the very best that I could to make them proud. That’s why I did it, to make my parents proud. – Well, one hot summer afternoon, my dad called to the house and he told my mom to take me downtown to take a test to see if I could get into
the white high school. That was the first time I’d
heard anything about it. I took the test. – Starting today, August 25, and continuing for three days, Negro students requesting to transfer to Tuskegee High School are taking the Otis Mental Ability Test and the Stanford Achievement Test. According to Principal E. W. Wadsworth along with the test scores, the cumulative school record, including academic grades, attendance record, personality rating, vocational preference, the education and
occupation of the parents, and teacher comments or anecdotal remarks on each student will be carefully studied. Parents and students will
be interviewed as well. – It was no problem. It was an easy test. And next thing I knew, I was going to that high school which was kind of a disappointment because I had my mind set on going to Tuskegee Institute High School. I was going into the ninth grade and my dad basically said, “You’re going.” It wasn’t a choice. And I mean, I was little disappointed because I was planning on a different
social life, I guess, but I could understand the point. – Now, my brothers had not been selected and my brothers were so jubilant and happy they had not been selected, and I was disappointed
that I had been selected. But I was like, “Oh well.” – 13 Negro students have been approved for transfer today. Three were seniors, one was a junior, three were sophomores, four were freshmen, and two were eighth-graders. However, no panic has been reported and only a handful of transfer requests from white students have been made. – What made me say yes to the question was by that point, my parents had instilled such a deep understand and respect for the need for change, to right the wrongs of things that needed to be righted. They had stood for that
in their own lives. I saw my mother over and over again stand for that. I saw my father stand for that. It was a group of, it was a collection of values and beliefs and consistencies that had been incorporated into the very fabric of our lives. So this was a situation that was presented as needing to change for all of the right reasons. And I felt that it was something that certainly I want to do, I want to be involved in, and I can help it. My parents did a lot of talking to us, checking in on our emotions, checking in on how we
were feeling about it, giving us the opportunity to change our minds if we chose to. – My parents were active in the community, in the civil rights community. There was a group of us, all the kids, the parents talked first and decided what they would do and their kids would be involved. Afterwards they talked
to us about doing it. I was always very interested in the civil rights issues, so I thought it was exciting. I’m sure we all had our reservations, but I don’t remember any of us being really scared. It seemed and felt exciting, but fearful at the same time. – Speaking with C. A. Pruitt, the superintendent of schools, he’s been out canvassing
the mood in Tuskegee. – I am convinced beyond
any reasonable doubt that everything had been done which could have been
done to meet the situation in an orderly and peaceful manner. I was assured by responsible citizens that law and order would prevail. – He is confident that
the town will cooperate and that police protection will be provided if necessary. – It was particularly
somewhat of a turmoil for me in that my mother and dad were progressive thinkers. They believed that we should not panic, we should not leave the
public school system, we should not leave town. We should stay to work with the black
people in the community to keep a peaceful community and to keep the schools open
and functioning properly. – Some of the older
folks in the community, and when I say older, I mean 40 or 50, they had more feeling for it than I ever thought it would be. At the time, I worked at the
neighborhood grocery store and people would come in all the time and when they released the names of those who would be going, they would say things like, “You need to be careful.” “I wish you good luck.” “I’m praying for you.” But I never thought about it much. At 17, you know, you don’t really think about dying, unfortunately. You think you’re gonna live forever. You think dying is for the old. – I think that some in the community didn’t understand the struggles, did not understand why
we would want to do this, and so there was ambivalence over that. Even in our church people saying things to my parents like, “How could you put your children “in this situation? “How could you put them
in harm’s way like this?” which was very troubling,
I think, for my mother as a mother and because some of these
people were friends. – I remember the Sunday before school integrated that Monday. I remember standing in my front yard just dragging my foot in the gravel in a figure eight. I was barefoot and it was hot, but I was just trying to
decide what I would do because I knew that 13 black kids would show up among all of the white kids, a bunch of whom were
going to be very angry and maybe doing and saying
some hurtful things. So I played out a fantasy of it and it was like, would I intervene? Would I stand up? Would I try to become friends
with someone, you know? What would happen to me if I did? I pretty much decided
that if I liked somebody, I’d be friends with them. I wasn’t just going to
be friends with them ’cause they showed up, but just going to let the
chips fall where they may. – Word came to us within a week or two before it happened. We went through the whole summer bursting, looking forward to going to school. We knew we were gonna have an extra good football team that year. We had a new coach and he had met with us several times. All the stuff going on in the world, you know, we didn’t get involved with it. We were focused on playing ball. That’s all we were doing. – I decided to run for vice president of the student council for the next year. I was the youngest that had ever done it because I’d be serving in the 10th grade. Nobody thought I stood a chance, but I won. I thought maybe I’d found something I could really do. I started getting involved
in student council stuff and integration was this topic that showed up early and often. We knew the school would be integrated that upcoming year and that point, I decided I wanted to be a part of whatever we had to do. Several of us arranged meetings during the summer to discuss what was going to happen. We even planned assembly programs for when school got started to get everyone acclimated to what was going to happen. – I was on the student council too and we were meeting
next door at the hotel, and a lot of the discussion focused on what are we going to do. Everyone was geared up to make it work, but some people were also pissed. I remember being pretty mad that my life was being disrupted, but I also remember realizing that there was this moral
issue in front of me. And a lot of the discussion
on student council focused on how to keep the white culture as intact as possible. And I remember discussions of should there be white
fraternities and sororities, clubs, white formations within an integrated high school that allowed the kind of
social life to continue. – When we first started our meetings, it was all students. We didn’t have adults, were 15, 16, 17-year-old kids and we thought we could solve the problems of the world. We thought we could do anything. So we weren’t meeting with advisors, we weren’t meeting with anybody that was telling us what to do. We just decided this
is what we want to do. As far as I knew, everybody was going to school. I never had anybody tell me they weren’t going to go to school. It wasn’t the kids that were the problem. It was the parents that were the problem. (background chatter) – On the scene of an unofficial meeting of the Tuskegee Parents
and Teacher Association. There are approximately
400 people present, including angry members
of the Citizens’ Council, who repeatedly accused
Superintendent Pruitt of caving in to federal pressures. – As a member of the
State Building Commission, I promise you that your children do not have to attend integrated schools. The state will provide tuition grants so that our children do not have to go to school with Negroes. They just don’t want you to know that. – We can organize a private school and we do not have to put up with this. – While many people came to the meeting resigned to the court-ordered integration, it appears as if a great deal of anger has been generated, that there’s now some momentum for a private school movement. Some members at this meeting did circulate a petition
asking Governor Wallace to intervene. At this point, 13 Negro students are slated to begin
classes on September 2. – Further, there is concern in Tuskegee that strongly segregationist whites from the county’s northern area may seek to interfere. The Ku Klu Klan, an organization to be
reckoned with in Alabama, reports heavy support in the area and in adjoining counties. The Kennedy administration’s concern over the Tuskegee situation was demonstrated this week by the frequent visits of
Justice Department attorneys to the city to confer
with local officials. – There was a meeting with the parents of the students approximately a week
before school started. The Justice Department
had representatives there. The meeting was at the barber shop right on Church Street
and Montgomery Road. – [Doar] What you are entering into is something that you have a right to do. There are some things that might happen, but I want you to understand that we are here to protect you. There is a US Marshal Service that has set up headquarters out of the VA hospital. You’ll be walked, you’ll be guarded, we’ll be with you. – John Doar painted such a vivid picture of what could happen down to saying. – [Doar] You may leave here today and not come back home. Something bad could happen. You need to know that. That’s the reality. How does that make you feel? Do you still want to go? – And I think for me the reality of the magnitude of what could happen just (fist slapping) hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember feeling it, digesting it, comprehending it and then saying “Yes, but I’m still going.” And my sister said the same thing. – [Doar] Unless somebody
physically touches you, we cannot intervene. We will be watching. We will be observing. But unless somebody
physically touches you, we cannot intervene. – [Students] They will be watching. They will be observing. But unless someone physically touches us, they cannot intervene. – I had a crush on John Doar. He came to our house frequently. I said he just comes in the evening so he can eat. For him being the
assistant attorney general, I felt I was as close to the
president as I could get, you know, knowing that Robert Kennedy was the attorney general at that time. From that point, we had federal marshal escorts everywhere we went. I didn’t see them when I looked outside, but if we got in a car and went anywhere, they were there. – The week before school, lots and lots of conversations with my parents, on the phone with other plaintiffs, with the attorney, just lots of conversations. My sister and I talked a lot. We felt like we were about to participate in one of the greatest
moments of our lives. You know, (students humming a tune) we heard the stories on the news about this integration of
the schools in Tuskegee, of the school in Tuskegee. We heard conversations, very hate-filled conversations from people about how wrong it was. They’re not happy with that kind of thing. There was a degree of fear in the town around this event about to happen. There was a lot of tension leading up to the first day of school. ♫ Which side are you on? ♫ Which side are you on? ♫ Which side are you on? ♫ – Most students and their families woke up on September 2, 1963, anticipating the start
of a new school year, knowing that several black students would be enrolled. My mother decided to walk
us to school that morning because she thought
there might be bystanders from other places and news reporters. My seven-year-old brother walked with us. – We lived half a block from the school. You could throw a rock and hit the school. It’s funny the things you remember and don’t remember, but that day I remember. That day has been imprinted in my mind for my entire life. I can’t escape it. On the morning school was
supposed to get started, my daddy came in and woke me up and it was real early in the morning, which was kind of unusual, and he said, “Get up and
look out the window.” And all I saw were state troopers parked in front of my
house and up the street. I looked down at the high school and that was all I saw. – You couldn’t go past the Ford’s house and everybody was lined
up in Ms. Ford’s yard. I think there were a
hundred troopers there and another hundred came. – Governor Wallace today ordered the integrated opening
of Tuskegee High School delayed for a week and ringed the red brick building with state troopers to make certain the
order would be enforced. Wallace invoked what we said were his police powers as chief executive officer
of the state government, in holding the opening of the institution, which was to become the first all-white public school in Alabama to admit Negroes. – Whereas it is the express intention of the governor of the state of Alabama to preserve the peace, maintain domestic tranquility, and protect the lives and property of all citizens of this state, now therefore, I, George C. Wallace, as governor of the state of Alabama and in conformity with the constitutional and statutory power vested in me as governor of said state, do hereby order and direct the Macon County Board of Education, Macon County, Alabama, to delay the opening
of Tuskegee High School for a period of one week until to wit Monday, September 9, 1963, for the sole and express purpose of allowing the governor
of the state of Alabama to preserve the peace, maintain domestic tranquility, and to protect the lives and property of all citizens of the state of Alabama. – We had the order from the Supreme Court to integrate the schools and we were prepared to
follow this order through. We wanted to send the children on bicycles to school and treat this like it was any other day. We talked to our children and the children in the neighborhood and we said go do your business and study your lessons and do your best. Just don’t talk about it. We sent them on bicycles and they came right back home because state troopers
were surrounding the school elbow to elbow, refusing to let them into their own school. I couldn’t believe this had happened. – When we arrived, we were shocked to find our school surrounded by Governor Wallace’s
mounted state troopers with the message that the
school had been closed for fear of violence. My only fear was generated by the presence of those troopers. My mother, Alice Lee Howard Wadsworth, bravely led several of us students up to one state trooper to tell him we wanted to attend school. – So I decided to get
dressed and go outside. By then, several people
in the neighborhood had come out and they told us nobody’s going to school. They said the governor had decided that Tuskegee High School wasn’t
going to be integrated. I remember thinking how could they do this? I didn’t understand
and I wasn’t old enough to know the workings of the world. I didn’t understand how they could do something like this. I panicked because I thought, “I’ve got to go to school. “I’m supposed to go to school today.” And they said, “Nobody’s
going to school today.” I went into the house
and called Judy Johnson, the student council president. She lived on the other side of the school and she said. – It’s the same thing over here. You can’t get near the school. You may as well just relax because we’re not going to school today. – My mother walked up
to the state troopers and said, “I’m going to
teach the black children “and there’s not going to
be any problem with that “because they’re going
to be under my wing.” – Governor George C. Wallace
defiantely challenged the federal government on Monday by using hundreds of armed state troopers to choke off school desegregation in Birmingham, Mobile, and Tuskegee. The segregationist governor’s actions sent Negro attorneys
scurrying into federal courts to get orders to prevent him from interfering with integration. Negro attorneys regarded
the enjoining of Wallace as the first step towards
getting President Kennedy to send troops or US Marshals to Alabama or take whatever action necesssary to see federally-ordered
school desegregation is carried out. In Tuskegee, the Negro students scheduled to attend were kept from the scene for their safety. – The closing of the
public school in Tuskegee was a very serious matter. After carefully reviewing
the events of the day at home that evening, I concluded that if Wallace, as governor of Alabama, had the authority under state law to close down a public school to prevent integration, then he must have the authority to use that same state power to further integration in our public elementary and secondary
schools in Alabama. This realization hit me like the burning bush speaking to Moses. I could not wait until the next day. At about 10:30 in the evening,
I got on the telephone with my associates and clerical staff and told them to get to
the office within the hour. In response to the governor closing Tuskegee Public School, I wanted us to prepare an immediate motion for temporary restraining order, a motion for an order to show cause, and an amendment to the complaint in Lee versus Macon
County Board of Education. I wanted to file these documents as soon as possible to show Governor Wallace and the world that we were serious and that we meant business. I thought if we were successful, there would be no need to file 98 separate lawsuits and no other African-American parents would be subject to
appraisals as a plaintiff in any other school desegregation case. There would be no more segregation in the Alabama public school system. In less than an hour, my entire staff was at the office and ready to work. That staff consisted of my law clerk, Edwin L. Davis, my wife, Bernice, who was my secretary in those years, and me. That was not the first time we worked all night in a crisis. By morning, we were ready. We filed motions for a
temporary restraining order and for an order to show cause why Governor George C. Wallace should not be made party defendant and not be enjoined from obstructing or preventing compliance
with the court’s order requiring for racial integration for the schools in Macon County. Not only did we file these motions, but the governor was
served the legal paperwork that same day. He was astonished at
how quickly we reacted to his closing the Tuskegee school. Wallace appeared shaken on the six o’ clock news that evening. He must have thought we had spies in his administration. Of course, he was wrong. All it took was one hard night of work and a few hundred years of getting motivated. – The Southern Education
Reporting Service, which keep a close tab on desegregation, reported last week that of
144 Southern school districts admitting Negro pupils for
the first time this fall, 124 were doing so voluntarily. The rest were desegregated
under court order. Only minor instances of disorder have been reported
anywhere outside Alabama as the fall of segregation continues. As Alabamians surveyed the peaceful scene elsewhere in the South, they must be asking themselves, “What goes on here?” What goes on, they must conclude, is that they are being
bullied and intimidated by a governor who has long since forfeited the support of the thoughtful citizens of his state. Mr. Wallace has already
lost that phase of his war. He is bound to lose all the way. The sooner he realizes it, the better for him and Alabama. – I’ve heard a lot about states’ rights, but what about cities’ rights? Where’s Al Lingo? Tell Al Lingo to get ’em out. Get your durn troopers out of here. We want our kids to go to school. – Plans had been made
to integrate peacefully according to the court order, and there did not appear that we were gonna have any trouble Monday. I feel that this is an
invasion of Macon County by the governor who talks about letting the local people
solve their problems, but then violates these principles. – People in Macon County are capable of handling this problem. – For a long time, I feared Russia, but now I’m wondering if the danger is not in Montgomery instead of Russia. – We’re going to preserve
our school system just as it is, and not allow a jungle system in Alabama. – Having talked with
individual members of the board following a conference with representatives of the governor and with the attorney general of Alabama, and having considered
Executive Order Number 9 of Governor George C. Wallace and the restraining order of
the federal district court, which the board and
superintendent is now under, and the common good, welfare, and benefit of the schools and people of Macon County, the members of the board have determined it is their duty to operate the schools of Macon County. – Although there has been
no violence as of yet, Governor Wallace has dispatched 100 more troopers to Tuskegee, bringing the number present to over 215. Sheriff Jim Clark’s Dallas County mounted police officers have also arrived on the scene. They’ve formed a barricade
around the school and no one but the principal has been allowed to enter. – The picture has been painted all over the county that Macon County is ready and willing to accept integration in their schools. There are a lot of people who do not agree with the statements that have been made. Information has been secured that a school can operate
with tuition grants as provided by law through the local Board of Education. We believe that we are acting in the best interest of all people. Our group is planning ways and means of providing a school
that parents may choose in lieu of the integrated school, as prescribed by Alabama law. – I assure the Macon
County School Foundation that it has my full and firm support. You will have schools for
your children in Tuskegee and I will lend the full resources of my office to help you. – What happened after that first day was a siege. I would wake up every morning and these people would never leave. These people camped outside my house for at least two weeks. We all got to know the state troopers because they were there and the kids in the neighborhood were talking to them. They were doing their job. They were just there
because they were told they had to be there. It was during that period that the sides were really drawn and the line was really put down that you knew you were on this side or this side. Whatever anxiety people had that summer had not quite boiled over. Everybody was a little
anxious and suspicious, but seeing this presence of these people in that little town, it just destroyed it. People were screaming and
hollering at each other, people who had been friends forever. Families split, cousins wouldn’t speak to cousins. It got so close then and personal then you would see it when
you would go to church. You would have this group over there saying, “How can y’all not do this?” and the other saying, “This will never happen.” Before that, all summer long, I had not seen this once, never, ever. – There was a segment of the townspeople who were very in favor of integration. Then Governor Wallace sent representatives to turn people against integration. It swayed some people and so the town was very divided, divided to the point of, if you believed in integration, you walked on one side of the street and the segregationists
walked on the other side. They ostracized families and we were very much persecuted, called on the phone and told that crosses would be burned in our yard. It terrified me. I had a lot of fear because my father had died and my mother and two younger siblings were in the house. And I never use this word, but it was used on the phone, “You nigger-lover, we’re not gonna have “your mother teaching.” – Most of the faculty
at Tuskegee High School, 20 teachers, were turned away for the third consecutive day today by armed state troopers. Principal E. W. Wadsworth led the contingent of teachers
to the school grounds, but was told sorry, the
school was still closed. He turned to the teachers, thanked them, and told them they were still on payroll. He also told them to go home and work up a good lesson. Only a few persons other
than teachers were there and school buses returned empty. – No, we didn’t go to class. Matter of fact, we even
played the first football game but had never been to class. We practiced right up and
played the first game, but then after that, it was all over. I think there was a lot of concern by the adults in the community. There was a lot of
pressure on us as players not to go to school, not to play ball. And I think somewhere along the line, a bunch of men got together and they promised us that if we did that, then they would start a
school to have us play. Of course, that was hard on me. I was a junior. It was tough on those
boys who were seniors. Anyway, we had a team meeting. We called it together. It was at a hotel. Someone had put up a suggestion or made a nomination that we disband the team. And we had a great coach in Dean Akin. He tried to convince
us that that should not be the thing we do. But I guess we were pressured
from the older adults when they took the votes. I know it was a majority vote, but I think maybe one or two dissented. After the majority vote, it was decided to disband the team. – Closed school didn’t stop
our first football game, so I was a cheerleader for one game. – This morning, the 13 Negro students are going to attempt to desegregate Tuskegee Public High School. Governor Wallace has vowed to stop this. (students humming “We Shall Overcome”) – But the integration actually happened. There were 13 of us black students. – Even though I don’t
remember being afraid, I’m sure we were. We were probably trying so hard not to appear afraid. I think there was a lot of apprehension because we knew the white townspeople were opposed to integration and we had certainly seen all the beatings and heard about the bombings. – I remember getting ready for school. My parents took me to the
Board of Education building, which was actually across the street, kind of catty-corner from
Tuskegee High School, where we were to attend, and we met with the superintendent and there was some kind of orientation. And then we got on a bus, a school bus, and we went half a block
on the bus to the school. – The main thing I remember about the day of integration was the Dallas County
sheriff’s department on horses. It was a very dramatic, traumatic scene. This was at the state level,
the highway patrolmen. It was not really at the county level. – These were the folks who had charged at Selma Bridge. This wasn’t just any
Alabama law enforcement, this was that particular
fascist cadre set. I remember being out in the bushes in Ms. Ford’s yard, just looking out at through people’s feet, trying to take it all in. I was 13, 13, 14, and there was this school I had grown up in. Grammar school, middle school, going to high school. It had been so much of my life and now there was all this commotion. – We heard the threats and the taunts, particularly when we started going on the bus to school. I remember the first day. We went down on the bus and I remember thinking that I wasn’t really afraid
because my father was there and I could see him. As long as I could see my father, I felt empowered in a way. It was my father and John Doar, and because John Doar represented the federal government, that made a difference
to my sitting on that bus and the level of fear I had. So whenever I saw my father, I felt like I could do anything and I didn’t have to take a lot. It was frightening. At the same time, it was kind of empowering. I saw the troopers and I’d seen them on TV. And oftentimes, the state troopers would be the ones who were, in a lot of instances, beating people, and protecting people who were beating black people. We were conscious of that, but you thought you were right and so that made it even more compelling. – As we got over there, there was a regiment
of state troopers there and Captain Prier got on the bus and read another proclamation from Governor Wallace. – Whereas the threat of forced and unwarranted integration of the public schools of this state is detrimental to the public interest, and whereas the integration
of public schools will totally disrupt, effectively destroy the educational process, and constitutes an abridgement of the civil rights of other children attending the schools and deprives them of equal
protection of the law and constitutes the
deprivation of their rights, liberty, and property
without due process of law, and now, therefore, I, George C. Wallace, as governor of the state of Alabama and in conformity with the constitutional and statutory power vested in me as governor of said state, do hereby order and direct that no student shall be permitted to integrate the public schools of the city of Tuskegee, Alabama. – Captain Prier told us that the governor had made the decision and told the bus driver
to turn the bus around, and he handed out copies
of the proclamation. I remember my sister did an
absolute act of defiance, but feeling very comfortable and confident in doing what she was doing because she knew it was wrong, taking the proclamation. – I just took it and I tore
it up in front of them. And I remember that feeling, empowerment, the right thing to do, that we were doing something that was almost righteous. I do remember that. I also remember looking back and seeing my father. – So my first day was roughly one hour from the time I got on the bus to the time we got back to Superintendent Pruitt’s office. – Governor Wallace withdrew the troopers, but replaced them with National Guardsmen. In Washington, a White House spokesman said President Kennedy
would await developments before taking action. – At dawn Tuesday, the National Guardsmen, armed with bayonets, took up positions at
the beleaguered schools. In Washington, President Kennedy signed two documents, one, a proclamation that
directing the governor to cease and desist from the unlawful obstructions of justice. An hour later, the president signed a second document, an executive order federalizing
the National Guard. Within minutes, the Guardsmen were whisked back to their armories. With the way cleared, the
20 Negro students entered white schools in Birmingham,
Mobile, and Tuskegee. – I have lost the battle against the whole armed might of the US. I cannot fight bayonets
with my bare hands. – The bayonets have been
removed from the scene and I believe that desegregation
has been accomplished without the federal presence. – [Governor Wallace] I will continue to fight through legislation. – Wednesday of that week, we were told we were going back to school. So we met at Pruitt’s office again and as we rounded the corner coming up on the school, there were no state troopers. There was, however, the
Alabama National Guard that had been federalized
by President Kennedy. So we went inside and did
the proper registration. There were roughly grades
eight through 12 there, maybe 50 white students. As the day went on though, that number dwindled because parents were
coming to take them out, and by the end of the day, there were probably six. – Later that week, I remember seeing a couple of the black students walk across the breezeway between the grammar school
and the high school, and I just had this sense. These are kids. This could be me. I had this sense of
identification with them and everything just seemed crazy. It seemed crazy to me. They seemed lonesome. Later on, when I heard some
of their oral histories, they were these historical agents, very proud of the roles they were playing. I was the one who was lonesome, but for me it was just like, these are kids like me. – The next week, school reopened and I was finally able to start classes. The new black students also began classes. However, a plan for a private school was now being developed, so only a small number of white students, along with the new black students, sat in those lonely classrooms that week. The teachers seemed like they wanted to make this new situation work. I was amazed at the courage of a few black students in my classes, but I never had the
courage to speak to them. I was so sad later that week when daddy came to take
me home from school in the middle of the day. For my safety, he said. I knew then that my school
days and family life were headed for upheaval. – I felt like I was a part of the movement and that it was a righteous movement. I don’t remember feeling
much about the white kids because I think the expectation was that they weren’t gonna stay anyway. And I don’t remember feeling bad that they weren’t there, I just remember expecting that they wouldn’t be there. – The thing that struck me immediately, the very first day that I went to my science class was, I saw this incredible science lab, fully equiped, close to
state of the art equipment I’d never seen in my life and I immediately made the contrast with my old lab in Tuskegee
Institute High School where there were Bunsen burners. That’s all that kids had
to do experiments on. That was the extent of the lab, so there was no equal anywhere. It was definitely separate. I saw books that were fresh, new, whereas we had old books, tattered books, names written all in them,
scribbles in the margins from somebody else’s handwriting, always second-hand books and here I’m looking at new, fresh books. Bookshelves laden with
beautiful new books. There was a brightness in the science lab. Sunlight streaming into
this amazing equipment, things that I had never seen, and I realized immediately
how different it was. I think that’s the piece that will forever stick in my mind of, you know, an example of why what we were doing was so important, why it needed to be done, that this kind of exposure
may never have happened. – White students are flocking to Notasulga and Shorter High Schools and away from Tuskegee. Teachers are being shuttled
between the schools and many have resigned or been reassigned. This is an unsustainable
and burdensome situation. – The threats are continuing and mother is not the
only one receiving them. – I’ve heard if you refuse
to teach at Macon Academy, it goes badly for you. The commercial teacher’s
tires have been flattened. – One board member had
his barn burned down. – The whole town is coming apart. You can’t even go to
church without an argument. – You know, crosses have been burned in front of two Board of
Education members’ homes and others have received serious vandalism and threats. – However, some Tuskegee teachers such as Dot Akin, refuse to leave. She told this reporter, “I never taught “a more cooperative or interesting “group of students. “Lesson assignments and
extra reading materials “were always completed
and handed in on time. “They did everything to prove “they had come to get a better education. “They showed a deep appreciation “for any and all consideration “given them by their teachers.” – I guess things were
going pretty good for us because we were having
individualized instruction. At the time, we didn’t
know how good it was and I think that went
on ’til around November. Then the Macon County Board of Education came up with a plan. All the white kids had left by then. The Board of Education said this school is not going
to be efficiently run with only 12 students, so this school will be closed. (school bell rings) – The town was split so
sharply down the middle that it just cleaved so
many of those relationships. My mother’s best friends were the Parkers, Alan and Eva Parker. My mother and Eva Parker
were mothers together and their children would go back and forth between the houses, and I still have pictures
of birthday parties with Glen and Neil for our first, second,
and third birthdays. When the Parkers went
with the integrationists, when both sides just stopped speaking, my mother had this bitterness and she didn’t speak to Eva for years. So many of the relationships between white families ended, lots of white families. Also people left town, including many of my friends. My family stayed, but lots of people left town. My mother and Eva got to
where they would speak, but there was too much gone, so I would say they got to where they… I know that Eva came
to my mother’s funeral. I think they hurt each other profoundly and lost so much of that deep friendship that there was just no way you could go and put it back together again. – I think it demolished the camaraderie and the spirit we had going of working hand in hand in a peaceful coexistence. I think it needed to change, but somehow in that change, we lost the town. It’s really because people did not know how to work together. – We as kids formed a
bond between ourselves of commitment. This was something we were going to do. We had all decided it on our own, we were going to be there for each other. And we were, no matter what. – But when the outsiders
started coming in, especially these movie star people and people that just, well, you know, people in the South don’t take, back then didn’t take good to outsiders coming in
and trying to tell you what you needed to do. To me, it just created more problems than it helped. And then, of course, you
had the confrontation between Governor Wallace
and President Kennedy. That was just like two
mules butting heads. – If George Wallace
would’ve left it alone, I know it could’ve been different. I don’t know what would’ve happened, but it wouldn’t have been like it was. The schools in Macon County would not have been destroyed. Most of the people in Tuskegee, they cared for each other. Maybe we would have decided we can’t do this, we can’t deal with this, but it wouldn’t have been with animosity. It was just horrible having people who wouldn’t even speak to each other. I blame him for that. I really do. – If they had known, if they had gotten to know the families who were going to integrate and had been over to sit down and talk with these families so that they were not the big bad monster, which they were not, but by some white people’s
standards, they were, I think trust would have been established. – The situation was taken out of our hands completely by Governor Wallace. If we had been left alone, I think we would have been fine and integrated peacefully. Not perfectly fine, because it would have
been a large adjustment, but we were prepared
to integrate that day. – I think the teachers and
most of the white students would have cooperated. Racial prejudice would
have not disappeared and there might have been tension and a few unpleasant incidents, but we have might learned something about tolerance and justice. I would have liked that opportunity. – And now, here I am, back living in Tuskegee. We still have a long, long way to go, but things are certainly better. You have to remember all the sacrifices that were made in various ways to get us where we are now. From my experiences, I’ve learned you have to be prepared because you never know when the opportunity will arise to make a difference. Take the chance because you never, never know what might happen. You never know. – And my burning desire has always been to know the impact
desegregation had on them, if they were traumatized by it, if it was a challenge and they went on to soar to great heights, which I have a feeling they did. I’m in touch with one of them now and she says she still feels my mother’s spirit around her and that means so much. – Because of the events
that happened in ’63, in some other way, I think has made race
relations better today. You know, you realize that
we’re all human beings and we just need to be there to help one another. Even now, I reflect on it as being a time when you really search your soul and see what decisions you coulda made, what decisions you shoulda make, the ones you did make, and the ones you wrestled with. – I want young people to realize that ordinary people are the ones who change the course of history even more than the famous men and women in history books. – I was thinking about it sitting in a Tuskegee
University board meeting, I’m on the board down there, and I’ve gotten real close to two retired military guys, General Chuck Williams
and an Atlanta businessman named Felker Ward. He was helicopter pilot in Vietnam, did two tours. Now these are as fine a two men as I’ve ever known, solid family men, good Christian men, served their countries with distinction. And I sat and looked at them and said, “You know what? “40 years ago, I would not have been able “to have lunch with them in Tuskegee.” You know, that was wrong. – Well, I look back at it now sometimes and I just can’t believe
that I actually did it. And I think the reason I
was able to get through it was because I never thought
I could die from it. I didn’t know how mean and vicious people really could be. I was just a kid, it was a carefree life. We need to reflect on that part of history and say that it’s shocking
that that could happen, but it did and now we
need to move forward. We are all human beings and we are here for a limited time and once that time’s gone, well, it’s gone. – We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. Our history is getting diluted and the younger generations
are not being taught the importance of these events and things weren’t
always the way it is now. And we’re not very far from it going back. 50 years. – Ultimately, Lee versus Macon County was appealed to the United
States Supreme Court and was affirmed. There are probably over
300 different opinions which have been written on
various aspects of the case. The case was important for many reasons. One, we integrated all of Alabama’s remaining segregated public schools in this one lawsuit. This was an efficient means
of dispensing justice. It was both time-efficient
and cost-efficient. Individual students and their parents did not have to file separate suits to integrate schools and be subjected to appraisals when they became plaintiffs. Two, the sweeping order
integrated all colleges, which were then under the control of the state Board of Education, without the necessity of filing a lawsuit. Three, it merged the African-American High School Athletic Association and the white High School
Athletic Association, thus leading the way for African-Americans
athletes in high school to gain recognition
for their achievements. With increased recognition, these athletes received publicity, which attracted the attention of coaches from larger colleges and universities. As a result, many African-American student athletes have gone on to become sports professionals. Four, all state trade school, junior colleges, technical schools, and all other colleges under the control of the state Board of Education were integrated in this order. The case is still alive and well. Whenever there are problems existing in any of the local school systems or any problems existing in any of the other institutions
under the control of the state Board of Education, there is no need to file a new lawsuit. Relief can be sought simply by going back into court under Lee versus Macon County. – For Alabama, I hope there’s hope. I’d hoped that once the
white power structure would see African-Americans
functioning well might really cause a change of heart. The fight of the African-American and the fight of the average white person, and I’m talking about from your middle to your lower income bracket people, their destiny is joined together. And if they ever got together, it would mean those people who have been playing the
races against each other would no longer have controlling power and the majority of people would, in fact, have the power. – For the most part, in this country, I think that black people and white people live in parallel almost universes. They walk along the same streets side by side, they go to their jobs, they go to their homes, they go to their churches, but they very rarely truly intersect and know each other. I think black people
probably know white people better than white people know black people culturally, and what
happens in their homes, and what happens in their churches. There’s a lot of vestiges
of institutionalized racism and discrimination that are still here. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been some changes for the better, but until that conversation, that honest conversation about race is held in this country, we’ll continue to have
these types of problems until maybe the old people, like myself, get out of here and these young kids have to deal with the world. – Don’t be too quick to stereotype the people who were
living through this time. All whites were not violent and hateful. Some were confused and afraid. Some wanted change. Compassionate whites were horrified by the extreme violence and hate crimes against blacks in Alabama and in other parts of
the country in the 1960s. Unfortunately, however, too many Southern whites were bystanders who failed to take
action to protect others. – So from my perspective, African-Americans first have to learn to love themselves. They have to see themselves as valid without having to be validated by the larger society. If we could get to that point, then regardless of what
happens in this country, it’s got to get better for both groups. And if whites could get to a point where they acknowledge having created a country off the free labor of a people and created a system that perpetuates and reinforces white privilege through distortion and lies, then we might just have a chance to heal and create a better place
for future generations. You really have to look at it realistically and holistically, where you are as a people and where the other side is as a people. The history we were taught and continue to be taught is based in part on
distortions and half-truths. We can’t move forward living a lie. (a woman humming “This
Little Light of Mine”) I can say this though. You talked about our courage and I don’t take anything from those kids on that bus and that time in Tuskegee that did that, but what I’ve learned is that children all over the South did that. (more voices join the woman humming) All over the South. So the courage is definitely out there. Some of us know those things because we were in a time and in a place where they were
highlighted and publicized, but there are many, many more whose names would never be known, but who did the same thing, faced the same fear, and in some cases, paid the ultimate price. ♫ Out there in the dark ♫ I’m gonna let it shine ♫ Out there in the dark ♫ I’m gonna let it shine ♫ Out there in the dark ♫ I’m gonna let it shine ♫ Let it shine ♫ Let it shine ♫ Let it shine ♫ (mellow piano music)

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