Journey to school integration was painful, prolonged process

Grant Blankenship


Telegraph file photo

After court orders to integrate the Bibb County school system, protesters marched on the federal courthouse in 1970 carrying a fake coffin to symbolize “buried freedoms.” The sign the child is carrying reads: Please help me to attend a school of my choice.

Thelma Dillard had top-notch teachers during her years at Ballard-Hudson Senior High School, but the facilities and resources there were a different story.

The school was still segregated when she attended in the early 1960s, and she learned from raggedy textbooks and worn chairs handed down from the white schools in town.

“We wanted equal assets, and we wanted to be treated equal,” said Dillard, an educator for 44 years and a current Bibb County school board member. “We wanted to have the resources that everybody else had. It was all about equal treatment under the law.”

The Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 held that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” But like many other places across the country, Bibb County didn’t see real change in its public schools until years later.

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