In the statewide elections of 1967 almost 70 percent

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Unformatted text preview: hot. The ominous and much-dreaded winds of desegregation were gathering strength. The good folks of Ford County had more important matters to worry about. After a decade of strife and tension over civil rights, many white Mississippians were fearful that the end was near. If the federal courts could integrate the schools, could churches and housing be next? The following day, Baggy went to a public meeting in the basement of a church. The organizers were trying to measure the support for a private, all-white school in Clanton. The crowd was large, frightened, angry, and determined to protect the children. A lawyer summarized the status of various federal appeals and delivered the distressing opinion that the final mandate would come that summer. He predicted that black kids in grades ten through twelve would be sent to Clanton High School and that white kids in grades seven through nine would be sent to Burley Street in Lowtown. This caused men to shake their heads and women to cry. The thought of white kids being shipped across the tracks was simply unacceptable. A new school was organized. We were asked not to report the story, at least not then. The organizers wanted to gain some financial commitments before going public. We complied with their requests. I was anxious to avoid controversy. A federal judge in Memphis ordered a massive busing plan that ripped the city apart. Inner-city black kids would be hauled to the white suburbs, and along the way they would pass the white kids going in the other direction. Tension was even greater there, and I found myself trying to avoid the city for a while. It would be a long, hot summer. It seemed as if we were waiting for things to explode. - --- I skipped a week, then ran the second part of Miss Callie's story. On the bottom of the front page I lined up current photos of the seven Ruffin professors. My story dealt with where they were now and what they were doing. Without exception they professed great love for Clanton and Mississippi, though none p...
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