The first school children to de-segregate South Carolina schools will be honored tonight at Charleston’s City Council meeting 50 years later.
Twelves former students known as the “first children,” are being honored and will receive keys to the city by Mayor Joe Riley.
According to the city’s proclamation, in the 1950s, the state of South Carolina constructed over 200 “separate but equal” schools for black students, also known as equalization schools, in anticipation of a judicial order from the Supreme Court to desegregate.
South Carolina stalled and avoided the process of desegregation until 1963, years after the the 1954 U. S. Supreme Court ruling to do so.
The local students were part of a lawsuit against Charleston County School Board District 20.
They include Millicent E. Brown, Cassandra Alexander, Eddie Alexander, Gerald Alexander, Ralph Dawson, Jacqueline Ford, Barbara Ford, Gale Ford, Oveta Glover, Clarisse Hines and Valerie Wright.
The city’s recognition says the group “courageously entered segregated schools alone or in small groups because the forces of history demanded that young African American children carry forth the struggle for a quality education.”
The 12th students was listed as Minerva King, who is listed as the original plaintiff against the district in 1959.