Silent Telenews coverage of the violent response to the attempted racial desegregation at Sturgis High School in rural Western Kentucky in 1956.
Two years after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision declared school segregation unconstitutional, ten Black students attempted to enroll at the all-white Sturgis High School on September 4, 1956. Turned back by a jeering mob, they appealed to governor A.B. "Happy" Chandler, who called out the National Guard to maintain peace. The Guard held back the crowd the next morning as nine Black students entered the school. The National Guard was stationed in Sturgis for 18 days. On September 19, State Attorney General Jo M. Ferguson ruled that since the Union County School Board had made no provisions for an “orderly process” of school desegregation, the Black students could not be admitted until the School Board made adequate plans. The school did not reopen to Black students until the following September.
Read more about the desegregation of Sturgis High School here
Begins with footage of National Guard troops stationed outside the school with tanks, while Kentucky State Police stand by. White teens are dropped off by a Union County Schools bus and walk into the school. Next, a Black teen runs through the crowd surrounded by armed troops and photographers.