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  • As a white child growing up in a segregated city I was surprisingly clueless about what was going on. Jim Crow existed but was more subtle here than in Mississippi. The sit-ins of the early ‘60s brought more media coverage.

    My first awareness of the segregated school system was when we had moved to a new neighborhood in 1961. Prior to being allowed to change schools we had to travel to the school district office. My mother explained that this was so the school district could determine our race.

    While the clientele of the restaurants we ate at and the stores we shopped at was all white, I either didn't notice any race restricting signs or they weren't posted. I recall eating at a restaurant south of town that a cousin owned, completely oblivious that it was segregated, with a separate dining room and back entrance for the black customers.

    At some point in the ‘60s the federal government forced them to integrate. An uncle was a small town mayor, and I recall that he closed the municipal swimming pool down rather than integrate it. As a child this seemed ridiculous to me.

    Here in Houston the schools were the last public facilities to be integrated. In my junior high school, sometime in the mid-‘60s, the student body was summoned to the auditorium and it was very hush-hush about what was going on. There it was announced that the next day the school would be integrated, and that one black student would be coming to school the next day. Severe repercussions were threatened for any troublemakers.

    To my knowledge no one made any trouble, but as an adult I respect the bravery it took for this kid to be the first to break the color bar in the school, and for his father to uproot his family and move into what was then an all-white neighborhood.
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