Mar 13, 2017

MMMM # 568 ---Recording Law Enforcement---and a Segregation Moment Frozen in Time in Tuskegee

The experience of an attorney working part time as an Uber Driver (Law school is expensive!) is a reminder that some of the same "freedoms of the press" are enjoyed by all Americans, not just reporters. Like the right to record police, as long as you don't interfere with their actions. A good read!

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     The Washington Post published this 54 year old photo taken in Tuskegee Alabama in 1954 on Friday to illustrate a story about Alabama's much-amended state constitution, and the fact that is still contains long-overruled language calling for separate school systems for white and black students. 

The caption:  
"High schoolers wave a Confederate flag and sing “Dixie” as they whoop it up on a porch in Tuskegee, Ala., Sept. 2, 1963 across the street from Tuskegee High School, which was set to open to black and white students. (AP Photo/Horace Cort)"

     As the story reports, even black politicians like Joe Reed opposed a 2012 effort to replace the language in the constitution. They worried it might have removed the requirement that the state provide any system of public education.

     The photo got me thinking, not for the first or last time, about the people in it. 
     1963 Tuskegee. Where are they now, probably in their 60's or 70's? Did they eventually change their minds about their resistance to integration? Or do they remain as hard-hearted today as they were then? 
     Tuskegee was a flashpoint for segregation that year, as this report indicates:

September 10th, 1963

State Funds Private School for Whites to Avoid Integration in Tuskegee, Alabama

In January 1963, African American parents of students in Macon County, Alabama, sued the Macon County Board of Education to desegregate the county’s public schools. Though the United States Supreme Court had declared school segregation unconstitutional nearly nine years earlier, the board had taken no steps integrate local schools. In August 1963, Federal District Judge Frank Johnson ordered the school board to begin integration immediately.
The school board selected 13 African American students to integrate Tuskegee High School that fall. On September 2, 1963, the scheduled first day of integrated classes, Alabama Governor George Wallace ordered the school closed due to “safety concerns.” The school reopened a week later, and on September 10, 1963, the second day of classes, white students began to withdraw. Within a week, all 275 white students had left the school.
Most fleeing white students enrolled at Macon Academy, a newly formed, all-white private school. In support of the school and its efforts to sidestep federal law to maintain school segregation, Governor Wallace and the school board approved the use of state funds to provide white students abandoning the public school system with scholarships to attend Macon Academy. Meanwhile, the Macon County School Board ordered Tuskegee High School closed due to low enrollment and split its remaining African American students among all-white high schools in Notasulga and Shorter, Alabama. White students in those high schools boycotted for several days and many eventually transferred to Macon Academy.
Now Macon-East Academy, the school relocated near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1995, and today operates as one of several private schools in the Alabama Black Belt with origins rooted in resistance to integration. As of the 2007-2008 school year, Macon-East Academy's student population of more than 400 was 98% white and less than 1% African American.

The photograph was used more recently in a 2013 event marking the 50th anniversary of the integration of the school, as a backdrop to remarks by Civil Rights lawyer Fred Gray. You can see the optimistic caption "Learning Together" above his left shoulder.


Civil rights attorney Fred Gray speaks at a symposium celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lee v. Macon county case, which was instrumental in desegregating schools in the 1960s. The event was held at Tuskegee University on August 23-24, 2013.
Victoria Santos, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University

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AND: Last Thursday was the 63rd Anniversary of Edward R. Murrow's groundbreaking investigative TV reporting on Joseph McCarthy. HERE's the story from CBS, including The entire first 25 minute show.

[The Monday Morning Media Memo is a regular feature of www.timlennox.com.]

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