published Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Marker unveiling recalls Franklin County Schools' desegregation - Jan. 19

The Sewanee (Tenn.) Civic Association will unveil a historical marker Sunday, Jan. 19, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Franklin County Schools.

According to a news release, the 1963-64 case that forced desegregation was unusual for its inclusion of both white and black plaintiffs. Likewise remarkable was the participation of the community in enlarging the school site and preparing the children for the first integrated school year.

Four black families (Hill, Sisk, Staten and Turner) and four white families (Bates, Cameron, Camp and Goldstein) brought the suit.

Sewanee community members pitched in to build extra classrooms for the elementary school. One local argument against integration was that there was not enough space for all the children. The volunteer construction eliminated that one.

The team of tutors who gathered over the summer at Otey Parish eliminated the other argument, that the black children would not be academically prepared to join their white peers.

The unveiling of the historical marker honoring both those families and the supportive community will take place at 2 p.m. CST at Sewanee Elementary School, 260 University Ave. Members of the families who brought the lawsuit in 1963 will speak briefly, followed by a question-and-answer session. Most of the speakers will make their remarks inside the school before everyone moves outside for the marker's unveiling and dedication by Vice Chancellor John McCardell. A reception will follow in Brooks Hall at Otey Parish across the street.

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