School’s Out for the Summer

1963peprallyCroppedNineteen sixty-three, end-of-year school-wide pep rally. An assembled horde of young white Athens High Trojans going home, or to work for the summer, or to war.

A gym full of kids with nothing to do but work off hormones and jitters. Cheerleaders winding up the crowd, which didn’t need any help. Athletic letter-winners recognized, the pep squad would play one side of the gym against the other.

GOOOOOOOOH! from the seniors and freshmen. TROOOOH-JAANNS! from the sophomores and juniors. Louder and louder. The seniors always won. Seniors were the judges. When they heard the announcement they’d won, a new chant broke out from their side.

THE LAST WHITE CLASS!! THE LAST WHITE CLASS!! THE LAST WHITE CLASS!!

Two brave black kids would join us next year. They would graduate with us.

But no more would enter Georgia’s Athens High School until 1971.

2 thoughts on “School’s Out for the Summer

  1. Glad to read about this last white class thing. Sometimes I thought it couldn’t have really been like that, but it was. I think the year was 1964, not 63. I remember that at the formal graduation for the class of 1964, they had a large banner that read, « Class of ‘64. Last of the all white classes » I kept waiting for someone in charge to make them take it down. No one ever did. In the summer of ‘63, they couldn’t have known about David and Walucia. Thsee are horrible memories, but I find it very satisfying to be processing them from a 50 year distance with all the adult perspective in between me and those times. I have also learned under this president that apparently prejudice is always with us simmering just below the surface like molten magma just waiting to burst to the surface.

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  2. My memory of desegregation is slightly different. I only remember the 1 black girl. We’re there 2 girls or a girl and a boy? I also thought they start in the fall of 1964. I tell people this story all of the time. I feel like an awful person when I think about. I just remember wondering why they would put her alone in our school, and why pick someone who even if she was white would be made fun of. Look where we are now. I spend a lot of time on the verge of tears because of what is happening. Your writing is awesome. I also enjoyed the story about driving through Georgia. Hope you are doing well. We are lucky to have all of our boys near and 2 grandchildren. Take care Marilyn

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