On August 27, 1956 in Clinton, Tennessee, twelve African American students made history when they were the first to walk through the doors of a legally desegregated high school. On that day, integration in the South formally moved from the courtroom to the classroom.
Author Doug Davis was a frontline witness to history. His mother was an English teacher at the high school, and his father was a lawyer in the initial court case. Although school opened with minimal disruption, the first week ended with tanks rolling into town to keep order. Later, when the parents of the black students were reluctant to send their children to school, the authors father was one of three who escorted the students through a gauntlet of angry racists that had gathered in protest. Davis was just eight when this happened, and the memories of those tense days were the inspiration for this story.
The conflict followed the family home and included the burning of a cross in their front yard. The family members were eyewitnesses to their hometowns turmoil, conflict that escalated from riots and protests, culminating in the destruction of the high school with one hundred sticks of dynamite. Th e people of this ruptured community bore the brunt of this momentous era of societal change in America. Here, childhood memories of family and community shed their light on the story.