Saturday, May 2, 2009

Separate But Not Equal - Carol P. Bartold

On September 4, 1954, eleven black students entered the 10th grade at Milford High School in Milford, Delaware. Civil rights leaders in the state decided to test the May, 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision reached in the Brown vs. Board of Education. The decision struck conventional wisdom of providing a "separate but equal" education for black public school students.

I interviewed Orlando Camp, one of the original eleven students who enrolled at Milford High School in 1954.
"There were no black high schools in Milford. There was Jason High School in Georgetown and William Henry High in Dover. This was a real coup for us as minority students because we felt, for the first time, that we would have the opportunity to get a quality education. And theat was the only goal we really had in terms of integration. We did not consider the mixing of the races as something we were advocating."

"On the fourth or fifth day of the first week of school the crowds began to multiply outside the school to the point there were hundreds of people standing outside, protesting, calling us names. We started going to school in State Police cars."

"This is an example of the separate but equal school, William Henry High School. It's all modern, all glass and state of the art. "

My thanks to the Delaware Public Archives for giving me access to supporting material, including the papers of Governor Caleb Boggs. I also thank the Graduate Student Senate of Sarah Lawrence College for funding to cover travel and research.

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