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September 12, 1956, black students enter and are barred from Clay Kentucky Elementary School. James and Teresa Gordon, escorted by the National Guard, began attending the all white elementary school. That day, hundreds of guardsmen patrolled the school. By the children’s second day of classes, the two Gordon children, as well as one white child, were the only students in the entire school. The rest had walked out in protest.
More than half the teachers also stopped working, in protest. It was soon after ruled by the Kentucky Attorney General Jo M. Ferguson that the two schoolchildren should be denied admittance to the school. The reasoning: because the school board didn’t have an integration plan. Integration wasn’t allowed in the school until over a year later.
Pictured above: Soldiers protecting the access of black pupils to public school in Sturgis, Kentucky against white demonstraters in 1956.