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Unformatted text preview: At the black school there was an air of victory. The parents were concerned, but they were also elated that their children would finally be enrolled in the better schools. Though they had miles to go in housing, employment, and health care, integration into the public schools was an enormous step forward in their battle for civil rights. Miss Callie and Esau were there. They were treated with great respect by their neighbors. Six years earlier they had walked into the front door of the white school with Sam and fed him to the lions. For three years he was the only black kid in his class, and the family paid a price for it. Now it all seemed worth it, at least to them. Sam wasn't around to interview. There was also a meeting in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church. Whites only, and the crowd was slightly upper middle class. Its organizers had been raising money to build a private academy, and now suddenly the fund-raising was more urgent. Several doctors and lawyers were there, and most of the country-club types. Their children were apparently too good to go to school with black children. They were quickly putting together a plan to open classes in an abandoned factory south of town. The building would be leased for a year or two until their capital campaign was complete. They were scrambling to hire teachers and order books but the most pressing concern, other than running from the blacks, was what to do about a football team. At times there was an air of hysteria, as if a 75 percent white school system would pose grave dangers for their kids. I wrote long reports and ran bold headlines, and Harry Rex was right. The newspapers were selling. In fact, by late July 1970 our circulation topped five thousand, a stunning turnaround. After Rhoda Kassellaw and desegregation, I was getting a glimpse of what my friend Nick Diener said back at Syracuse. "A good small town weekly doesn't print newspapers. It prints money." I needed news, and in Clanton it was not always available. In a slow week, I would run an overblown story on the latest fi...
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- Spring '10