The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.
Eric Reed was the first black quarterback at his elementary, middle, and high school when the Baton Rouge public schools were being integrated.
Epithets were used against him more than once.
Reed’s junior year at predominantly white Istrouma High School, 1974, was a turning point. The night after a race riot at the school, the football team played the last game of the regular season against all-black McKinley.
“Anytime Istrouma played McKinley, I happened to be the target of a lot of trash talk, because I’m the one who didn’t go to McKinley or Capitol, I chose to go to Istrouma, so I was -- the term they used back then -- the ‘oreo’, you know, I sold out.”
Both teams needed the win to get to the playoffs, but Reed says he didn’t have the usual fire in his belly. Istrouma lost 7 to 6.
Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:41 am
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Kelly McEvers.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning.
This spring will mark 60 years since Brown versus Board of Education. That's the Supreme Court ruling that was intended to end segregation in America's public schools. But a year-long study by the investigative journalism group ProPublica finds that we've never gotten to that goal. In fact, America in recent decades has been moving backward.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:39 pm
Clayton Sherrod was just 19 in 1964, when he became the executive chef at an all-white club in Birmingham, Ala. Sherrod, who is African-American, had started working in the kitchen there when he was 13, after his father had a heart attack.
"My mother said, 'You can't go back to school. You're going to have to find a job.' So I went to the country club."
Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 12:23 pm
In Little Rock, Ark., on Monday, a federal judge is considering a deal that would end one of the longest-running and most notorious school desegregation cases in the country. The state, its largest school districts and lawyers representing black students have agreed to settle a complex lawsuit over unequal education.
Little Rock has long been the symbol of the South's violent reaction to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that declared school segregation unconstitutional.
The parishioners of Our Lady of Peace in the small plantation town of Vacherie can’t wait to get into their church’s new bathroom building. But for some poorly placed air conditioners, they would have dedicated the building last month.
For decades, the old bathroom building behind the 113-year-old Catholic church stood like a monument to segregation. A few months back, some members of the community started talking about racism in the church and concluded that bathroom needed to come down.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 1:26 pm
The nation's first black public high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar High, opened its doors in Washington, D.C., in 1870. But more than 140 years later, Dunbar — like many urban schools — has fallen on hard times. The crumbling, brutalist-style building is often described as a prison, and graduation rates hover around 60 percent.
But it wasn't always that way. Once upon a time, the yearbook read like a Who's Who of black America.