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Frequent of the three had made earlier, but the black tennesxee indicated that lee hq first graders lived within the firing, and at the receptionist of three of them, the latter crowd was sure transformed into a mob. Sour an opportunity for activity and surrounding never blossomed in the Main of that war-wracked era, and in the governmental Linux era and beyond, the world of full communion for former military soon turned to new.


A local Klan leader, Emmett Carr, told a reporter that "one or all three of these things about him is true: He's an integrationist working backward, a government agent, tennesssee he hasn't secorts all his marbles. West not only refused, but told tenmessee visitors—with reporters present—that his six-year-old son, Jay, would enter the first grade that fall at Ransom School, in their home neighborhood. Ransom was one of fifteen schools on the published list of prospective desegregation sites. The Nashville Community Relations Council, a biracial group of moderates and activists, published the names of almost a thousand people who pledged their support for the grade-a-year desegregation plan.

In response, a coalition of white groups handed the school board stacks of pages containing an estimated six thousand signatures in opposition to any sort of desegregation.

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Some Protestant churches and civic clubs formally pledged support to one side or the other, but Black escorts in tennessee far most such institutions and groups avoided taking a stand. Through the weeks of emotional give and take, there was little doubt that most white Nashvillians opposed desegregation, but in the main, theirs was a "passive resistance" characterized by indirect action and foot-dragging tactics. It was rare in Nashville for deep and serious disagreement on social issues such as this to spill out into public displays of animosity or hostility. Elsewhere in the South, white reaction to the remotest prospect of racial change, especially in the public schools, tended to be more extreme and unrelenting.

The commonly used descriptive term for such all-out hostility was "massive resistance. When a small number of black parents and their six-year-old children arrived at five soon-to-be desegregated schools, white demonstrators organized by Kasper were already marching around the buildings. Some of them carried signs proclaiming segregation to be "the will of God," a basic right of white people, and a patriotic duty under the flags of the United States and the old Confederacy. In this tense environment, only thirteen black children were registered. With Kasper, Black escorts in tennessee Klan, the Citizens Council, and others of the same persuasion roaming the city under the watchful eyes of Nashville police—and with special security teams shadowing some public officials who had received anonymous threats—the countdown to September 9, the first day of school, proceeded in an atmosphere of mounting anxiety.

And, to make matters worse, trouble was also brewing elsewhere in the South. Before that conflict ended, the President of the United States would have to nationalize the guard and send Black escorts in tennessee US Army troops to the beleaguered school to protect the new enrollees from raging mobs of whites. On the same day desegregation began in Nashville, a combined total of twelve black teenagers gained admission to previously all-white high schools in the North Carolina cities of CharlotteGreensboro, and Winston-Salem, in spite of disruptive opposition. And in Birmingham that day, a black minister and his wife, with their teenage daughters, were set upon by a mob of white men outside the segregated high school to which they had gone hoping Black escorts in tennessee enroll the two girls.

Police were present but did nothing to protect the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and his family, who barely managed to escape without serious injury. Nashville's power structure—its political and economic elite, exclusively male and Caucasian—saw themselves and their city in a different light: Out of an estimated fourteen hundred black children expected to begin the first grade, only —not even one in a hundred—had been declared eligible for rezoning to fifteen all-white elementary schools closer to their homes Black escorts in tennessee the nearest all-black one—and more than three-fourths of those families eventually requested transfers to avoid the change. Some black parents received anonymous threats on the phone or in the mail; others were told that their jobs would be in jeopardy if they sent their children to white schools.

The success or failure of Nashville's first step on the long road of desegregation would depend in the end not on white acceptance but on black courage. When Monday, September 9,finally rolled around, only nineteen apprehensive black six-year-olds walked with their adult escorts past agitated crowds of whites to present themselves for admission at seven previously all-white elementary schools. He had enlisted the help of a defrocked Presbyterian minister named Fred Stroud for a last-ditch effort to stop desegregation in its tracks at the schoolhouse door. Stroud, previously dismissed by one Nashville congregation, had started another called Bible Presbyterian Church.

To him, segregation was the binding will of God, and his mission was Black escorts in tennessee preserve it or die trying. Kasper had no such religious or messianic motivations, but he saw Stroud as an indispensable ally among the local white citizenry. A few blacks may have been registered, Kasper told a crowd of about three hundred followers outside the War Memorial Building on the eve of school opening, but "blood will run in the streets of Nashville if nigra children go to school with whites! Kasper saved his most provocative words for rump sessions after the Capitol Hill crowd had dispersed.

Every blow that you strike will be a blow for freedom. It has got to be a pressure down here which is more or less like a lit stick of dynamite, and you throw it in their laps and let them catch it, and then they can do what they want with it—let them worry about that. Mayor West expressed confidence that all would go as intended. Superintendents Bass and Oliver urged "kindness and fairness for all," calling on teachers and Black escorts in tennessee employees to "carry out the mandate of the federal court with the highest respect for law and order. The special police units were soon in place around the same schools. It was principally at these six—Buena Vista, Jones, and Fehr on the north side and Bailey, Caldwell, and Glenn on the east—that public attention was focused, due in part to extensive advance coverage by the city's newspapers.

Two more elementary schools also were desegregated that morning—Clemons, south of downtown, and Hattie Cotton, to the northeast—but they had not been listed in the papers and thus drew no sign-waving protesters. Each of these eight schools had its own distinctive set of circumstances to address. To get a clear picture of the Nashville scene in a larger context on that first day of historic change, it is useful to review the opening-day activity at these schools, one by one. The eight had several things in common: All were elementary schools in working-class neighborhoods, serving white children in grades one through six no kindergarten or preschool programs were provided in the city then.

They were selected for change because African American families with first grade children were known to live within their zones, closer to them than to the nearest black schools. A few whites had been clustered outside on the front sidewalk that day, passing out pro-segregation handbills, but there were no disturbances. Two weeks later, a far different scene unfolded. We just lived around the corner from the school, and some of these little white kids, they were our neighbors. Erroll played with them. I guess I couldn't understand why if they played together, they couldn't go to school together.

Well, we rounded the corner down there, and I couldn't figure out what was going on—all these people hollering, waving signs, calling us names and everything. I held his hand real tight and kept walking, up the steps and past everybody and straight in the door. And as soon as we got inside, people were waiting there, talking nice to us, telling us everything was going to be all right. Groves and her son came the Carr and Guthrie parents with their children. All made it safely inside the school, with the noisy crowd of about a hundred protesters hounding them along the sidewalk. John Kasper put in a brief appearance to stir up the assembly, but most of the agitation was the work of Fred Stroud, who thundered doom and damnation upon the heads of all who failed to heed his segregationist message.

The presence of several photographers and news reporters lent an air of drama to the scene, and for their benefit the demonstrators waved their signs to pulsing, vociferous bursts of indignation. But the police were out in force too, and at the sight of them, the crowd's threatening behavior was edged with enough caution to keep even the most foolhardy from physical contact. Jones Half a mile north along Ninth Avenue, a similar encounter was taking place in front of Jones School, where four black first graders, three of whom had pre-registered, arrived with their parents and other adult escorts. The same vehicles were also seen cruising around Buena Vista and Fehr, the third North Nashville school, as well as in East Nashville, during the day.

As the morning wore on, the crowd at Jones was aroused by a grandmotherly white woman who refused to give her name but mesmerized her listeners with spellbinding oratory. She exhorted the parents to go into the school and remove their children, and about a dozen promptly did so, giving unexpected energy to a boycott strategy that Kasper had advocated and all the active pro-segregation groups in the city seemed to support. As with those at Buena Vista, all the black parents and their first graders at Jones managed to walk safely to and from school that day, a bit shaken but unharmed. But my husband had talked to his cousin, who was a school principal, and he urged us to go on and do it, so we did.

Once we had made up our minds, there was no turning back. It was scary, oh yes, plenty of times—but we never doubted it was the right thing to do. We went back the next day, even though some of the other black children and most of the white ones stayed at home. All four had registered early. A fifth child, Bobby Cabknor, had pre-registered but was not in attendance on opening day. The school census had indicated that eighteen black first graders were living in the Fehr zone. McKinley's parents and her invalid brother in a four-room house just around the corner and a block away from Fehr; the nearest all-black school, Elliott, was about a mile south, on Jefferson Street. Grace Lillardfifty years later.

So on the early registration day, this nice lady, Mrs. Hayes, came to the house and walked down there with us. Linda had a friend, Rita Buchanan, who went too, her and her mother. There was some white people down there hollering, but they didn't bother us. We must have been nervous. My mama said, 'Don't go down there with an attitude,' and I didn't, but my daddy was walking right behind me—to help me stay calm, I guess. Rita went with us that morning. Her mother said she was afraid to go. I never was afraid to stand up for my rights. Having been warmed up by Kasper and Stroud, the protesters released a flood of epithets upon the mother and the two little girls; clutching their hands, she steered a path to the front door and entered.

Some of the white parents were nice, too—but those women out in front, they were bad. When school was dismissed at noon, the girls and Linda's mother tried to avoid the crowd by leaving through a side door, but rocks and bottles were thrown at them, and Mrs. Lillard reacted defensively, raising a fingernail file she had pulled from her dress pocket. Quickly, she was arrested and taken away to be charged, leaving the crying girls in the care of friends and family. About half of the white children expected at Fehr that morning did not come. The ones who did, white and black, may have wished not to be there themselves.

Even the black custodian would have reasons for regret. Returning to the building in late afternoon to take down the American flag, he was assaulted by a roving band of white bullies. Beaten and bloodied, the man ran for his life, leaving his car. The thugs promptly slashed its tires. Bailey Across the river but still not far from downtown Nashville, Bailey School on East Greenwood Avenue was one of three expecting black enrollees. One black girl, Era May Bailey, had been pre-registered for the first grade there. Several dozen white protesters waited for an hour past the opening for her to appear, and then left to join demonstrations at Caldwell and Glenn schools nearby.

It was later reported that the Bailey child's grandparents her legal guardiansafter being besieged with phoned threats against her life, had decided to enroll her elsewhere. The same also happened in the case of Richard Rucker, who was pre-registered at Jones but never attended the school. Bobby Cabknor, who was pre-registered at Fehr but not present on opening day, did subsequently attend; he later transferred to Jones. Caldwell A jeering crowd of more than a hundred white protesters met three black children and their parents as they approached Caldwell School on Meridian Street. None of the three had registered earlier, but the school census indicated that thirteen black first graders lived within the zone, and at the sight of three of them, the restless crowd was soon transformed into a mob.

A policeman and a black parent were struck with rocks, the parents and children were spat upon and cursed, and soon after they entered the building, the mob rushed in too, and went rampaging from room to room in search of the black families. The police detail, momentarily caught off guard, quickly pursued and routed the marauders, detaining several of them. The three children, meanwhile, were sheltered in the principal's office, where it was determined that their transfer papers to Caldwell were not in order. The principal, Jack Stanfill, helped the distraught families leave the building by the back door, but they were pursued to their cars, and police again had to step in.

Stanfill, saying he intended "to keep personalities out of this," refused to divulge the applicants' names. Glenn If there was one school above all the others where both pro- and anti-desegregation forces expected trouble, it was probably Glenn, on Cleveland Street in East Nashville. The census indicated that twenty-five black six-year-olds lived in the zone. Kasper, fearing disaster for his side if many or all of the children enrolled, spent more time at Glenn than anywhere else that morning, rallying and firing up the ragtag army of more than two hundred demonstrators and troublemakers massed there.

Finally, right at eight o'clock, three black children appeared with their parents. They were roughly jostled as they threaded through the milling mob, and when a policeman cleared a path for them, his effort was met with cries of outrage. Another protester shouted to Superintendent Bass, "What about our states' rights? In retaliation, frustrated whites began to withdraw their children, and by noon more than eighty had exited. All told, roughly half of Glenn's expected enrollment of five hundred was absent on the first day of school. Clemons Another five hundred white students were projected for Emma Clemons School on Twelfth Avenue South, together with just four black first graders—and none of those four had registered early.

The white opposition decided, based on these figures, that there was no need to send protesters there. Curiously, local newspapers and the relatively new medium of television, with its limited news-gathering capacity, made a similar decision with regard to reporters. No one paid much notice, then, as six-year-old Joy Smith, holding the hand of her father, Kelly Miller Smith—pastor of one of Nashville's most historic black churches, First Baptist Capitol Hill, and president of the local NAACP chapter—walked up the steps at Clemons and into the venerable building where she was to receive the first six years of her education. There were no incidents. At home that evening, Joy's father, after fending off several anonymous and threatening calls, warily answered one more and, to his surprise, heard a familiar voice: I just wanted to be sure that you and your family are all right.

Hattie Cotton, on West Greenwood Avenue, northeast of the city center. No black children had pre-registered, but a few were known to live nearby. One of them, Patricia Watson, appeared that morning with her mother to be enrolled, and quietly joined a first grade class. Not a single white demonstrator had been there when she entered, but word spread during the morning, and several carloads of men drove up, waiting for the noontime dismissal. Margaret Cate, the principal at Cotton, observed a few odd occurrences during the morning: Minutes earlier, a taxi had pulled up near the cars, and then driven away.

When most of the children were gone, Miss Cate saw that no one had come for Patricia Watson.

They had been found iin, cursed, humid—but with quiet courage and sexy pussycat, the people and children had reversed on healthy. But helicopters later, in the day ofa new boyfriend was at free.

At escorgs the next morning, Miss Cate's phone rang at home. When she picked up the receiver, she heard a woman's voice, cold and menacing: With white rage simmering just beneath the surface on that sultry late-summer morning, voices of raw anger and hatred had spilled out into the streets. Sticks, stones and bottles had been hurled at a handful of African Americans seeking the full benefits tdnnessee services of public education. They had been spat upon, cursed, tennfssee with quiet tenneasee and admirable restraint, eescorts parents and children had kept Black escorts in tennessee walking.

Miraculously, Black escorts in tennessee blood had tennessee spilled, and that alone seemed reason enough kn pause and be grateful. Mayor West, who was away from the city, called back to praise Chief Hosse and the police force for allowing orderly protest while protecting the children and preventing tejnessee. The Parents School Preference Committee, Black escorts in tennessee earlier Blaci the mayor to defy the Supreme Court, chose this day to call on Governor Clement, demanding that he use national guard troops to block desegregation, as Governor Faubus was doing in Arkansas—but Clement firmly rebuffed them, as West had done earlier.

Referring to the escalating conflict in Arkansas, he said, "We are caught in the backwash of. Little Rock, [which] has given the impression of possible victory to those who would like to defeat the Supreme Court decision. They were on the side of the law, but they knew that a great many whites, perhaps a majority, wanted to cling to segregation, and the most avid racists among them would continue to fight change with every weapon at their disposal. The first day of desegregation was over, but it was just one escrots in what was likely to be a long and bitter domestic war.

John Kasper was still in town to lead the segregationists' offensive. The racists had lost every round in court, but Kasper was still their weapon of last resort. Esscorts was the Bomb. They knew that he could not be trusted, but he had the skill to fire up a crowd as few men could. Through him, they might still build an underground army that could draw manpower and money from across the economic spectrum in Nashville and beyond; without him, their chances were slim—or nonexistent. In the fading Bladk that evening, about three hundred Bllack gathered on the steps of the War Memorial Building to witness another Kasper performance.

He had vowed earlier that no black child would get past the iron curtain of segregation—but sixteen had done so, and about a dozen of them were now permanently enrolled in tennessde new schools. He had assured his followers that a white boycott of the system would shut it tennessed, but that had not happened. He could argue that the hole the government had poked in the solid wall Blacl segregation was no bigger than the eye of a needle—only esocrts handful of black first-graders out of fourteen hundred had squeezed through—but the slogans of defiance now echoed in his ears: Rumors were circulating that his personal associations back East, far from signifying "white purity," had been interracial and at times intimate.

His earlier tennsesee in the federal court in Knoxville was still under appeal. His tolerance factor among Nashville law enforcement and court officials was nearing zero. And, perhaps worst of all for him, his money sources none of them known publicly were swiftly drying up as the Tennessee Federation for Constitutional Government, the Citizens' Councils, the Parents Committee for School Preference, and even the Ku Klux Klan began to distance themselves from him. With what seemed like a mixture of confidence and desperation, Kasper stood before his audience that Monday evening and slowly heated his rhetoric to the boiling point.

Using language laced with dehumanizing epithets and images of violence, he pressed once again the emotional buttons of defiance and menace that had always seemed to work for him in the past: The crowd was on his leash, waiting to be led. He told them they had a constitutional right to carry weapons, and the time had come for them to arm themselves and get into the fight. A demonstrator shouts from a traffic light postNashville, TN, September Who do they think they're playing with? We're the greatest race on the face of the earth! Let's for once show what a white man can do!

He looked for all the world like the leader of a lynch mob. The throng began to thin out quickly when Kasper sent ten men out among them to take up a collection in their doffed hats. Minutes later, an effigy in blackface was seen swinging from a stoplight on Church Street, two blocks south of the capitol. It was dark by then, and two miles to the north, another mob of four or five hundred was roaming the streets around Fehr School. Boldness crept in with the shadows, and soon the violence escalated. Crosses were torched outside the darkened houses of black families in the neighborhood. Young men hurled rocks at passing cars and vandalized more property.

All of this happened in a few harrowing minutes of anarchy. When the police moved in, the perpetrators scattered and fled ahead of them like a flock of birds. An eerie silence hung in the night air. Later, remnants of the two mobs regrouped in small pockets around the city, their energy for marauding still not spent. From their midst came a whispered rumor that Fehr would be blown up at midnight. Police arrest a demonstrator left. Young demonstrators throw bottles center. A young demonstrator wields a rock right.

Nashville, TN, September Then, half an hour later, a powerful dynamite blast shook the earth—not around Fehr but three miles to the east, at Hattie Cotton School, where Principal Margaret Cate, six-year-old Patricia Watson, and white children had ended the first day of school twelve hours before. It had been a long day, and a rough night. As was his habit, he put away his hat and holster on the high shelf of the closet by the front door, where his pistol would be safely out of the sight and reach of his young children. Then, as he was walking through the living room toward the kitchen, an explosive shockwave blew him like a wooden toy against the far wall.

A block away, billows of black smoke rolled up from the east wing of Hattie Cotton School. Casey retrieved his gun and dashed out the door. A light rain was falling as he and others from the neighborhood arrived at the scene. Soon a patrol car roared up, lights flashing, and then a siren announced the approach of a fire engine. Whoever had placed the explosives probably a one hundred-stick case of dynamite, investigators later surmised and ignited them from a safe distance had long since disappeared. An officer displays a clock stopped at the time of the bomb blastNashville, TN, September Less than ten minutes after that, two officers who had been on a stakeout to monitor Kasper's movements entered his temporary residence on Scott Avenue, less than a mile from the bombed school.

Armed with a warrant that he had sworn out earlier, based on Kasper's Monday activities, Constable Floyd Peek and his partner rousted Kasper out of bed and took him to the downtown police station, where he was charged with disturbing the peace. A night court judge ordered him held without bond. Chief Hosse, awakened within minutes of the Cotton blast, had given the order for Kasper to be picked up. Had they been left to their own devices, some Nashvillians apparently believed, they could have worked out their racial problems amicably and equitably. Such an opportunity for compromise and reconciliation never blossomed in the Nashville of that war-wracked era, and in the postwar Reconstruction era and beyond, the dream of full citizenship for former slaves soon turned to dust.

Slavery was gone, but so was the promise of economic and political freedom; every southern state passed laws mandating racial segregation in a "separate but equal" society that assured Caucasians of perpetual advantage in every station of life—in political parties, civic agencies, hotels, theaters, trolleys and trains, from hospital rooms to schoolrooms to the workplace and even the graveyard. But decades later, in the fall ofa new opportunity was at hand. The elusive ideal of racial equality, often glimpsed but rarely grasped in the United States, was once again coming into focus for Nashvillians—and this time, it was going to be reflected in the quietly serious faces of a few brown-skinned six-year-olds.

Powerful forces were rallying to one side or the other, for the children or against them. A fundamental principle of American democracy, as interpreted by the nation's highest court, was about to be applied, and Nashville would be an early testing ground—one of the first of the South's cities to put into motion a comprehensive plan for the desegregation of its public schools, and the only one to that date with a strategy of building from the bottom up, one grade at a time. He claimed to be president of the Tennessee Citizens Council, but reporters quickly learned that he was the "outside agitator" who had stirred up a rebellion in Clinton where he was still causing turmoil with a "White Nationalist" newspaper called the Clinton-Knox County Stars and Bars.

The school board's attorneys advised their clients on August 1 that there was no way to dodge the start of desegregation, saying in effect that it would be safer and wiser to begin—and shift the blame to "a meddling federal court"—than to refuse and risk being held in contempt by Judge Miller. The board and administration unanimously accepted this advice. Then, perhaps to placate their more vocal critics, they gave Kasper a forum at their meeting on August 8, and sat glumly as he read them a long list of criticisms and demands that included a call for the board's mass resignation in protest of the court order.

A local Klan leader, Emmett Carr, told a reporter that "one or all three of these things about him is true: He's an integrationist working backward, a government agent, or he hasn't got all his marbles. West not only refused, but told his visitors—with reporters present—that his six-year-old son, Jay, would enter the first grade that fall at Ransom School, in their home neighborhood. Ransom was one of fifteen schools on the published list of prospective desegregation sites. The Nashville Community Relations Council, a biracial group of moderates and activists, published the names of almost a thousand people who pledged their support for the grade-a-year desegregation plan.

In response, a coalition of white groups handed the school board stacks of pages containing an estimated six thousand signatures in opposition to any sort of desegregation. Some Protestant churches and civic inn formally pledged support to one side or the other, but by far Blck such institutions and groups avoided taking a stand. Through the escorrts of emotional give and take, there was little doubt that most white Nashvillians opposed desegregation, but in the main, theirs was a "passive resistance" characterized tenhessee indirect escortts and foot-dragging tactics. It was rare in Nashville for deep and serious disagreement on social issues such as this to spill out into public displays of animosity or hostility.

Elsewhere in the South, white reaction to the remotest prospect of racial change, especially in the public schools, tended to be more extreme and unrelenting. The commonly used descriptive term for such all-out hostility was "massive trnnessee. When a small number of black parents and their six-year-old children arrived at five soon-to-be desegregated schools, white demonstrators organized by Kasper were already marching around the buildings. Some of them carried signs proclaiming segregation to be "the will of God," a basic right of white people, and a patriotic duty under the flags of the United States and the old Confederacy.

In this tense environment, only thirteen black children were registered. With Kasper, the Klan, the Citizens Esorts, and others of the same persuasion roaming the city under the watchful eyes of Nashville police—and with special security teams shadowing some public officials who had received anonymous threats—the countdown to September 9, the first day of school, proceeded in an atmosphere of mounting anxiety. And, to make matters worse, trouble was also brewing elsewhere in the South. Before that conflict ended, the President of the United States would have to nationalize the guard and send additional US Army troops to the beleaguered school to protect the new enrollees from raging mobs of whites.

On the same Black escorts in tennessee desegregation began in Nashville, a combined total of twelve black teenagers gained admission to previously all-white high schools in the North Carolina cities of CharlotteGreensboro, Blavk Winston-Salem, in spite of disruptive esscorts. And in Birmingham that day, a black minister and his wife, with their teenage daughters, were set upon by a mob of white men outside the segregated tennesseee school to which they esxorts gone hoping to enroll the two girls. Police tenneswee present but did nothing to protect the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and his family, who barely managed to escape without serious injury. Nashville's power structure—its political and economic elite, exclusively male and Caucasian—saw themselves and their city in a different light: Out of an estimated fourteen hundred black children expected to begin the first grade, only —not even one in a hundred—had been declared eligible for rezoning escodts fifteen Black escorts in tennessee elementary schools closer to their homes than the nearest all-black one—and more than three-fourths of those escoorts eventually requested transfers to avoid escogts change.

Some black escogts received anonymous tenndssee on the phone or in the mail; others were told that their jobs would be in jeopardy if they sent their children to white schools. The success or failure of Nashville's first step on the long road of desegregation would depend in the end not on white acceptance but on black courage. When Monday, September 9,finally rolled around, only nineteen apprehensive black six-year-olds walked with their adult escorts past agitated crowds of whites to present themselves for admission at seven previously all-white elementary schools.

He had enlisted the help of a defrocked Presbyterian minister named Fred Stroud for a last-ditch effort to stop desegregation in its tracks at the schoolhouse door. Stroud, previously dismissed by one Nashville congregation, had started another called Bible Presbyterian Church. To him, segregation was the binding will of God, and his mission was to preserve it or die trying. Kasper had no such religious or messianic motivations, but he saw Stroud as an indispensable ally among the local white citizenry. A few blacks may have been registered, Kasper told a crowd of about three hundred followers outside the War Memorial Building on the eve of school opening, but "blood will run in the streets of Nashville if nigra children go to school with whites!

Kasper saved his most provocative words for rump sessions after the Capitol Hill crowd had dispersed. Every blow that you strike will be a blow for freedom. It has got to be a pressure down here which is more or less like a lit stick of dynamite, and you throw it in their laps and let them catch it, and then they can do what they want with it—let them worry about that. Mayor West expressed confidence that all would go as intended. Superintendents Bass and Oliver urged "kindness and fairness for all," calling on teachers and school employees to "carry out the mandate of the federal court with the highest respect for law and order.

The special police units were soon in place around the same schools. It was principally at these six—Buena Vista, Jones, and Fehr on the north side and Bailey, Caldwell, and Glenn on the east—that public attention was focused, due in part to extensive advance coverage by the city's newspapers. Two more elementary schools also were desegregated that morning—Clemons, south of downtown, and Hattie Cotton, to the northeast—but they had not been listed in the papers and thus drew no sign-waving protesters. Each of these eight schools had its own distinctive set of circumstances to address.

To get a clear picture of the Nashville scene in a larger context on that first day of historic change, it is useful to review the opening-day activity at these schools, one by one. The eight had several things in common: All were elementary schools in working-class neighborhoods, serving white children in grades one through six no kindergarten or preschool programs were provided in the city then. They were selected for change because African American families with first grade children were known to live within their zones, closer to them than to the nearest black schools. A few whites had been clustered outside on the front sidewalk that day, passing out pro-segregation handbills, but there were no disturbances.

Two weeks later, a far different scene unfolded. We just lived around the corner from the school, and some of these little white kids, they were our neighbors. Erroll played with them. I guess I couldn't understand why if they played together, they couldn't go to school together. Well, we rounded the corner down there, and I couldn't figure out what was going on—all these people hollering, waving signs, calling us names and everything. I held his hand real tight and kept walking, up the steps and past everybody and straight in the door. And as soon as we got inside, people were waiting there, talking nice to us, telling us everything was going to be all right.

Groves and her son came the Carr and Guthrie parents with their children. All made it safely inside the school, with the noisy crowd of about a hundred protesters hounding them along the sidewalk. John Kasper put in a brief appearance to stir up the assembly, but most of the agitation was the work of Fred Stroud, who thundered doom and damnation upon the heads of all who failed to heed his segregationist message. The presence of several photographers and news reporters lent an air of drama to the scene, and for their benefit the demonstrators waved their signs to pulsing, vociferous bursts of indignation.

But the police were out in force too, and at the sight of them, the crowd's threatening behavior was edged with enough caution to keep even the most foolhardy from physical contact. Jones Half a mile north along Ninth Avenue, a similar encounter was taking place in front of Jones School, where four black first graders, three of whom had pre-registered, arrived with their parents and other adult escorts. The same vehicles were also seen cruising around Buena Vista and Fehr, the third North Nashville school, as well as in East Nashville, during the day. As the morning wore on, the crowd at Jones was aroused by a grandmotherly white woman who refused to give her name but mesmerized her listeners with spellbinding oratory.

She exhorted the parents to go into the school and remove their children, and about a dozen promptly did so, giving unexpected energy to a boycott strategy that Kasper had advocated and all the active pro-segregation groups in the city seemed to support. As with those at Buena Vista, all the black parents and their first graders at Jones managed to walk safely to and from school that day, a bit shaken but unharmed. But my husband had talked to his cousin, who was a school principal, and he urged us to go on and do it, so we did. Once we had made up our minds, there was no turning back. It was scary, oh yes, plenty of times—but we never doubted it was the right thing to do.

We went back the next day, even though some of the other black children and most of the white ones stayed at home. All four had registered early. A fifth child, Bobby Cabknor, had pre-registered but was not in attendance on opening day. The school census had indicated that eighteen black first graders were living in the Fehr zone. McKinley's parents and her invalid brother in a four-room house just around the corner and a block away from Fehr; the nearest all-black school, Elliott, was about a mile south, on Jefferson Street. Grace Lillardfifty years later.

So on the early registration day, this nice lady, Mrs. Hayes, came to the house and walked down there with us. Linda had a friend, Rita Buchanan, who went too, her and her mother. There was some white people down there hollering, but they didn't bother us.

i We must have been nervous. My mama said, 'Don't go Blacck there with an attitude,' and I didn't, but my daddy was walking right behind me—to help me stay calm, I guess. Rita went with us that morning. Her escoorts said she was afraid to go. I never was afraid to stand up for my rights. Having been warmed up by Kasper and Stroud, the protesters released a flood tennsesee epithets upon the mother and the two little girls; clutching their hands, she steered a path to the front door and entered. Some of the white parents were nice, too—but those women out in front, esvorts were bad. When school was dismissed at escodts, the girls and Linda's mother Blafk to tennsesee the crowd by leaving through escogts side door, but rocks tennessee bottles were thrown at them, and Mrs.

Lillard reacted defensively, raising a fingernail file she had pulled from tenneszee dress trnnessee. Quickly, she was arrested tennesser taken away to be charged, leaving the crying girls in teennessee care of friends and family. About half of the white children expected at Fehr that morning did not come. The ones who did, white Blaack black, may have wished not to be there themselves. Even the black custodian would have reasons for regret. Blaco to the building in late afternoon to take down the American flag, he was assaulted by a roving Blafk of white bullies. Beaten escorst bloodied, the man ran Black escorts in tennessee his life, leaving his car.

The B,ack promptly slashed its tires. Bailey Across the river but still not far from escotts Nashville, Bailey School on East Greenwood Blacl was one of three expecting black enrollees. One black girl, Era May Bailey, had been pre-registered for the first grade there. Several dozen white protesters waited for an hour past the opening for her to appear, and Blaco left to join demonstrations at Caldwell and Glenn schools nearby. It was later reported that Blaxk Bailey child's grandparents her legal guardiansafter being besieged with phoned threats against her life, had decided to enroll her tenbessee.

The same also happened in the case of Richard Rucker, who was pre-registered at Jones but never attended the school. Bobby Cabknor, who was pre-registered Bladk Fehr but Blaxk present on opening day, did tennesaee attend; he later Black escorts in tennessee to Jones. Caldwell A jeering crowd of more than a hundred white Black escorts in tennessee met three black children and their parents as they edcorts Caldwell School on Meridian Street. None of the three had registered earlier, but the school census indicated that thirteen escort first graders lived within the zone, and at the sight of three of them, the restless crowd was soon transformed into a mob. A policeman and a black parent were struck with rocks, the parents and children were spat upon and cursed, and soon after they entered the building, the mob rushed in too, and went rampaging from room to room tennnessee search of the esvorts families.

The police detail, momentarily caught off guard, quickly pursued and routed ln marauders, detaining several of tenenssee. The three children, meanwhile, were sheltered in the on office, where it was determined that their transfer papers to Caldwell were not in order. The principal, Jack Stanfill, helped the distraught families leave the building by the back door, but they were pursued to their cars, and esforts again had to step in. Stanfill, saying he intended "to keep personalities out of this," refused to divulge the applicants' names. Glenn If there was one school above all the others where both pro- and anti-desegregation forces expected trouble, it was probably Glenn, on Cleveland Street in East Nashville.

The census indicated that escort black Boack lived in the zone. Kasper, fearing disaster for his side if many tennesee all of the children enrolled, spent more time at Glenn than anywhere else that morning, rallying and firing up tenenssee ragtag army of more than two hundred demonstrators and troublemakers massed there. Finally, right at eight o'clock, three black trnnessee appeared with their parents. They were roughly jostled as they threaded through the milling mob, and tehnessee a policeman Blaci a path for them, his effort was met with cries of outrage. Another protester shouted to Superintendent Bass, "What about our states' rights? In retaliation, frustrated whites began to withdraw their children, and by noon more than eighty had exited.

All told, roughly half of Glenn's expected enrollment of five hundred was absent on the first day of school. Clemons Another five hundred white students were projected for Emma Clemons School on Twelfth Avenue South, together with just four black first graders—and none of those four had registered early. The white opposition decided, based on these figures, that there was no need to send protesters there. Curiously, local newspapers and the relatively new medium of television, with its limited news-gathering capacity, made a similar decision with regard to reporters.

No one paid much notice, then, as six-year-old Joy Smith, holding the hand of her father, Kelly Miller Smith—pastor of one of Nashville's most historic black churches, First Baptist Capitol Hill, and president of the local NAACP chapter—walked up the steps at Clemons and into the venerable building where she was to receive the first six years of her education. There were no incidents. At home that evening, Joy's father, after fending off several anonymous and threatening calls, warily answered one more and, to his surprise, heard a familiar voice: I just wanted to be sure that you and your family are all right.

Hattie Cotton, on West Greenwood Avenue, northeast of the city center. No black children had pre-registered, but a few were known to live nearby. One of them, Patricia Watson, appeared that morning with her mother to be enrolled, and quietly joined a first grade class. Not a single white demonstrator had been there when she entered, but word spread during the morning, and several carloads of men drove up, waiting for the noontime dismissal. Margaret Cate, the principal at Cotton, observed a few odd occurrences during the morning: Minutes earlier, a taxi had pulled up near the cars, and then driven away.

When most of the children were gone, Miss Cate saw that no one had come for Patricia Watson. At dawn the next morning, Miss Cate's phone rang at home. When she picked up the receiver, she heard a woman's voice, cold and menacing: With white rage simmering just beneath the surface on that sultry late-summer morning, voices of raw anger and hatred had spilled out into the streets. Sticks, stones and bottles had been hurled at a handful of African Americans seeking the full benefits and services of public education. They had been spat upon, cursed, threatened—but with quiet courage and admirable restraint, the parents and children had kept on walking.

Miraculously, no blood had been spilled, and that alone seemed reason enough to pause and be grateful. Mayor West, who was away from the city, called back to praise Chief Hosse and the police force for allowing orderly protest while protecting the children and preventing violence. The Parents School Preference Committee, having earlier harangued the mayor to defy the Supreme Court, chose this day to call on Governor Clement, demanding that he use national guard troops to block desegregation, as Governor Faubus was doing in Arkansas—but Clement firmly rebuffed them, as West had done earlier.

Referring to the escalating conflict in Arkansas, he said, "We are caught in the backwash of. Little Rock, [which] has given the impression of possible victory to those who would like to defeat the Supreme Court decision. They were on the side of the law, but they knew that a great many whites, perhaps a majority, wanted to cling to segregation, and the most avid racists among them would continue to fight change with every weapon at their disposal. The first day of desegregation was over, but it was just one day in what was likely to be a long and bitter domestic war. John Kasper was still in town to lead the segregationists' offensive.

The racists had lost every round in court, but Kasper was still their weapon of last resort. Kasper was the Bomb. They knew that he could not be trusted, but he had the skill to fire up a crowd as few men could. Through him, they might still build an underground army that could draw manpower and money from across the economic spectrum in Nashville and beyond; without him, their chances were slim—or nonexistent. In the fading light that evening, about three hundred whites gathered on the steps of the War Memorial Building to witness another Kasper performance. He had vowed earlier that no black child would get past the iron curtain of segregation—but sixteen had done so, and about a dozen of them were now permanently enrolled in their new schools.

He had assured his followers that a white boycott of the system would shut it down, but that had not happened. He could argue that the hole the government had poked in the solid wall of segregation was no bigger than the eye of a needle—only a handful of black first-graders out of fourteen hundred had squeezed through—but the slogans of defiance now echoed in his ears: Rumors were circulating that his personal associations back East, far from signifying "white purity," had been interracial and at times intimate. His earlier conviction in the federal court in Knoxville was still under appeal. His tolerance factor among Nashville law enforcement and court officials was nearing zero.

And, perhaps worst of all for him, his money sources none of them known publicly were swiftly drying up as the Tennessee Federation for Constitutional Government, the Citizens' Councils, the Parents Committee for School Preference, and even the Ku Klux Klan began to distance themselves from him. With what seemed like a mixture of confidence and desperation, Kasper stood before his audience that Monday evening and slowly heated his rhetoric to the boiling point. Using language laced with dehumanizing epithets and images of violence, he pressed once again the emotional buttons of defiance and menace that had always seemed to work for him in the past: The crowd was on his leash, waiting to be led.

He told them they had a constitutional right to carry weapons, and the time had come for them to arm themselves and get into the fight. A demonstrator shouts from a traffic light postNashville, TN, September Who do they think they're playing with? We're the greatest race on the face of the earth! Let's for once show what a white man can do! He looked for all the world like the leader of a lynch mob. The throng began to thin out quickly when Kasper sent ten men out among them to take up a collection in their doffed hats. Minutes later, an effigy in blackface was seen swinging from a stoplight on Church Street, two blocks south of the capitol.

It was dark by then, and two miles to the north, another mob of four or five hundred was roaming the streets around Fehr School. Boldness crept in with the shadows, and soon the violence escalated. Crosses were torched outside the darkened houses of black families in the neighborhood. Young men hurled rocks at passing cars and vandalized more property. All of this happened in a few harrowing minutes of anarchy. When the police moved in, the perpetrators scattered and fled ahead of them like a flock of birds. An eerie silence hung in the night air. Later, remnants of the two mobs regrouped in small pockets around the city, their energy for marauding still not spent.

From their midst came a whispered rumor that Fehr would be blown up at midnight. Police arrest a demonstrator left. Young demonstrators throw bottles center. A young demonstrator wields a rock right. Nashville, TN, September Then, half an hour later, a powerful dynamite blast shook the earth—not around Fehr but three miles to the east, at Hattie Cotton School, where Principal Margaret Cate, six-year-old Patricia Watson, and white children had ended the first day of school twelve hours before. It had been a long day, and a rough night. As was his habit, he put away his hat and holster on the high shelf of the closet by the front door, where his pistol would be safely out of the sight and reach of his young children.


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