Students Taken from School by National Guard Troops

publisher : Associated Press
September 6, 1956
Gelatin-silver print
Mat : 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm)
Sheet : 7 x 10 in. (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
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On August 31, 1956—two years after the Supreme Court outlawed the racial segregation of public schools—eight African American students registered to attend the all-white Sturgis High School in Sturgis, Kentucky. The first day of school was tense, but the Black students met no overt opposition. On the second day of school, however, a crowd of approximately 300-500 white townspeople blocked the doors to the school and refused to let the Black students enter. When white protesters showed up again on the third day, the governor of Kentucky deployed more than 200 state policemen and National Guard troops to Sturgis to protect the Black students and escort them to and from school. Although the Black students were able to attend class, the situation in town remained volatile and the school’s operations were severely disrupted when many white families refused to send their children to class. In late September, the Kentucky State Attorney General ruled that although the Black students were entitled to attend Sturgis High School, the local school board had failed to provide an adequate plan for their integration, and therefore the students were required to withdraw until an effective integration plan could be formulated. Completing the integration plan took almost a year, but in August 1957 the local all-Black Dunbar High School was closed and its students were transferred to Sturgis High School. This time there were no major protests, and although racial tensions lingered, the school was successfully integrated.           

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