The first schoolchildren to desegregate South Carolina schools were honored with keys to the city of Charleston on Tuesday, 50 years later.
Five of the group were in City Council Chambers for the ceremony recognizing their role as the “first children.”
“Don’t reverse,” said Oveta Glover, one of the now adults. “There’s some reversal going on there. You’ve got to go stop it,” she added.
According to the city’s proclamation, South Carolina stalled and avoided the process of desegregation until 1963, years after 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.
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.”
Another student was Minerva King, who was the original plaintiff against the district in 1959, but she finished school before the barriers came down. She thanked her father, former NAACP leader J. Arthur Brown, for his strength and courage, and instilling that in her, too.
“I know it was lonely and frightening and difficult,” added Mayor Joe Riley.