Black History Month – Desegregation of West End High School

By Yahtzeebutterfly, Guest Blogger

Desegregation of West End High School in Birmingham, AL was initiated in September of 1963. Patricia Marcus, shown in the following AP wire photo, was one of the two Black students enrolled there that September. The photograph is captioned with these words:

“Birmingham, ALA., Sept. 11—CAR WINDOW SMASHED—One of two Negro girl students who desegregated West End High School in Birmingham sits in car and is partially framed by broken auto window. A rock was hurled through the window as the Negro girls were leaving the school area after class this afternoon. (APWirephoto) 1963”

Yahtzee Article 2 - 1

As I look at this September 11, 1963,  photo of Patricia Marcus, I see a student who just wants to make it home safely after a thrown rock has shattered the window where she sits. Yet, at the same time, I see her in her eyes her strength and determination amidst what must have been hurt, anger, and shock. Associated with the hateful deed just committed against her is the Confederate flag in the left foreground.  Historically that symbol has appeared, all too often, at the scenes where racial violence has been committed.  All too often it announces the presence of hearts starved of compassion, open-mindedness, and understanding because of white supremacist indoctrination.

Just the day before (September 10, 1963),  a white student had been photographed wearing a sign on his shirt that read “Keep West End White.” On either side of the word “Keep” appeared two Confederate flags:

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Yahtzee Article 2-3Two weeks before the rock was hurled at the car window where Patricia Marcus was sitting, Martin Luther King had given his “I have a dream” speech at The March on Washington.  Four days later, on September 15, 1963,  the terrorist bombing by white supremacists of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church savagely took the lives of four precious girls…Adie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair.

As I wrote that last sentence, my heart remembered Dylan Roof’s savage killing of nine members of the Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina last June.  Roof also was indoctrinated by white supremacy ideology:

 

“A photo from a white supremacist website showing Dylann Roof, the suspect in the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.” (quote from NY Times article)

Dylan RoofI still remember the cheers and expressions of gratitude when Bree Newsome removed the Confederate flag from the flagpole at the state capitol of South Carolina.  In the video of that day, Bree Newsome shouted

“You cannot get to me with hatred and oppression and violence. 

I come against you in the name of God. 

This flag comes down today.”

 

usa-shooting-flag-removal

May this symbol of hate and racism not only be removed from all public places but also from hearts of those individuals still filled with racial bigotry.  May I and all other White citizens of this country recognize the privileges that we unfairly gained as a result of the subjugation, discrimination, and repression of members our fellow Black citizens.   I pray that I and others can repair the damage caused by the heinous practices of both the past and the present.

 

 

Posted on 02/03/2016, in Black History Month, civil rights, Confederate Flag and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. yahtzeebutterfly

    Protesting the desegregation of West End High School, members of its white community drove around with cruel, hateful signs attached to their cars with Confederate flags waving:


    “A Confederate flag and a “Nigger Go Home” sign wave from a car cruising near West End High in Birmingham, Ala., which was integrated, Sept. 10, 1963. (AP Photo)”

    http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/photo/2013/02/50-years-ago-the-world-in-1963/f37_09120159/main_900.jpg?1420510778
    “White students in Birmingham, Alabama, drag an African American effigy past West End High School, on September 12, 1963.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      I appreciate your dropping by to read it, NavyDad.

      There was so much resistance and violence by Whites in response to school desegregation efforts.

      In Clinton, Tennessee (1956) a crowd, fuel by anger over the order to integrate, violently attacked Blacks in their cars:

      In Charlotte, North Carolina white students unleashed hate and violence at Dorothy Counts as she walked to school in September, the first day of integration at Harding High School. Although she was mistreated and taunted throughout the day within the school, she carried herself with dignity and an inner strength:

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yahtzee,
    You have brought a perspective into Black history that has been absent, and I so appreciate it. That perspective is to bring out what victims of racial bigotry lived with day in, day out.

    What was so dangerous about Black children receiving the same education as White children? We have seen that fear played out hatefully since 2008, when an American citizen attended school, including college and law school, and went on to become the president of the United States. That was not suppose to happen if Barack Obama was denied opportunity to an equal education.

    I watched discrimination in education take place in the late 1990’s until the mid 2000’s, not in the south, but in Northern Illinois. Since the school district was forced by law to integrate, the quality of education fell so badly that the school district had the lowest reading and math scores in the State of Illinois. Only those students whose parents were able to afford private education are given a good education.

    America has bitten off its nose off to spite its face.

    Liked by 3 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      ”That perspective is to bring out what victims of racial bigotry lived with day in, day out.”

      It tears my heart every time I learn details of wonderful people being targeted by the hate and violence of racial bigots.

      Tonight, I am near the end of a book that was so emotionally difficult to read. It is written by one of the Little Rock Nine who were the first to integrate Central High School. In her book, written more than thirty years after that 1957-58 school year, she reveals for the first time the violence and hate directed at her and the other eight within the school. She, herself, was tripped, kicked, pushed down the stairs, stabbed in the back with the point of a flag stick, trapped in the gym’s shower with scalding water pouring on her back, had burning paper tossed down on her while she sat in a bathroom stall, and had acid tossed in her eyes in the hallway by a student who came at her despite a soldier personally following right behind her (the quick action of the soldier washing out her eyes saved her eyes.) In her book she was able to express her feelings so well and in such detail that I was able to feel her heart and her pain. Her story has impacted me deeply She survived that year with a strength born of struggle.

      I will never understand the depth of evil and cruelty of those who commit verbal and physical atrocities because they are motivated by racism and the ideology of white supremacy. It is a tragic pity that many of them are submitted to evil teachings as children or take on white supremacist ideologies because they are lonely and want a sense of belonging with anyone or any group, no matter how evil.

      I really feel sorry for the children who are unknowingly harnessed and chained to evil teachings at a tender age. I pray that they can free themselves somehow from the chains of hate that choke their hearts and choke any possible expression of love and compassion.

      Liked by 3 people

      • “..take on white supremacist ideologies because they are lonely and want a sense of belonging with anyone or any group, no matter how evil.”

        That’s exactly what I’ve read. And I’m convinced that’s what happens to ppl like David Peircy BC his family wasn’t like him and they don’t have anything to do with him now. This would be the only explanation for most ppl who suddenly become racists in their 40s.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. We need posts like these To remind us again that racism is Very real & dangerous

    Liked by 3 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      You are so right, NavyDad…it IS very dangerous.

      This is a photo from Sunday, October 5, 1958 of the damage to Clinton High School caused by a bomb planted by someone angered by integration of the school:

      Like

  4. Wow, in a way, I don’t think those pictures seem very historic. They’re just black & white. But we just saw another picture of highschool girls posing in shirts that spell out a racial slur. In public. Grinning. Like idiots. One day that photo, just like those you posted, will be posted somewhere with a similar caption about racism c. 2016.

    Racist ignorance & insecurity is indeed indoctrination.
    I think Its going to be hard for some of our least intelligent citizens to realize, if they ever do, that they have literally been tricked into believing that they’re special and innately better than some other entire group of ppl just because of color.

    Most of us are moving on tho. We’re going global!
    My advice to all the left over bigots; you dummies better hurry up and catch up or you’ll be left behind. The cool kids aren’t waiting around for you.😁

    Liked by 2 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Great observations, Shannon.

      “Most of us are moving on tho. We’re going global!
      My advice to all the left over bigots; you dummies better hurry up and catch up or you’ll be left behind. The cool kids aren’t waiting around for you”

      Yep.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. 1963 was 53 years ago. The generation of high school students then just reached retirement age several years ago.

    For those who say that Blacks have not and are not being oppressed, and have opportunity, I want them to remember the photos, and those men who taunted Dorothy and other Blacks. They are those who went on to become decision makers, whether hiring decisions, or in government, law enforcement, and even store clerks.

    We should not think for one moment that they hired Blacks and if they did, that they hired them in positions they qualified for at equal wages. Neither should we think they did not over charge Black consumers, or acted without bias in law enforcement and judicial decisions.

    That is the generation whose children are now in decision making decisions. If the racial bigotry was passed on, then the process repeats itself.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. yahtzeebutterfly

    The civil rights laws, acts, and guidelines resulting from the pressure exerted by the Civil Rights Movement never were able to penetrate the hearts of committed segregationists and racial discriminators whether the students or parents at that time.

    So many then and now have held on to their hateful ideologies and have resisted change.

    Here is a link to an article worth reading:

    In Southern Towns, ‘Segregation Academies’ Are Still Going Strong
    In the 1960s and ’70s, towns across the South created inexpensive private schools to keep white students from having to mix with black. Many remain open, the communities around them as divided as ever.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/in-southern-towns-segregation-academies-are-still-going-strong/266207/

    Liked by 1 person

    • “In the 1960s and ’70s, towns across the South created inexpensive private schools to keep white students from having to mix with black. “

      I respectfully disagree with the author’s statement on why private schools were created. It was not to prevent White students from mixing with Black students. White slave owners mixed with Blacks. Whites hired Blacks to clean their houses, cook their food, look after their children, drive their horse and buggies and then cars, etc.

      The problem with school desegregation is that Black students would be taught the same as White students. The schools had exclusively White teachers, some of whom would not do their jobs if it meant teaching Blacks the same as they taught Whites. The lack of teaching properly in America’s public school systems was a move that bit off the nose to spite the face.

      This is evidenced in the school district where I live. After they were forced to integrate, reading and math scores became the lowest in the State. All children, White, Black, Brown, Red and Yellow, suffer.

      How did America survive for centuries and produce products and services without employees having college degrees? That’s a good question to ponder when thinking about the history of school desegregation. Now, we have an institutionalized educational system that discriminates based on how much money people have to attend college because there are still teachers who do not want all to be equally educated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Watch out for those Aquarians.

    Liked by 1 person

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