Brown vs. Board of Education 50 Years Later

By: Jeremy Pate
By: Jeremy Pate

1967 was a big year for Bay County high schools. It marked the first time black and white students walked the same graduation stage.

It was later that same year, 13 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, Bay County schools began to fully integrate.

Blannie Lewis King was a 7th grader at Jinks Junior High School the first year it was integrated.

"The first day of school that year, it was scary. We didn't know what to expect, the teachers didn't know what to expect. I must say that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. There was some name-calling, there was some pushing, maybe little scuffles in the hall or something, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been," said King.

The integration battles so prevalent in other parts of the country weren't as evident in Bay County. That's not to say this area was without its own troubles.

Annie Robinson was one of the first students to go from Rosenwald Junior College to Gulf Coast Junior College.

"I had an instructor tell me one time that unless you had blue eyes and red or brown hair, you weren't going to be able to pass his class," said Robinson.

One thing Robinson and King agree on is Bay County has come a long way, and many of today's students don't have a true appreciation for the educational experience.

"They grew up in an integrated society so they do take it for granted," said Robinson.

"It would have been nice to see a black teacher back then. There were no black teachers that first year, there were some my second year. It amazing to see how far Bay County has come," said King.

Teachers say athletics was a huge help socially during the integration process in local high schools.


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