Somebody Had To Do It: First Children in School Desegregation

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Oral Histories

Below are selected excerpts from the Somebody Had To Do It project interviews. In these oral histories first children share their experiences integrating local schools in communities across the Southeast. The Lowcountry Digital Library currently hosts full oral histories and transcriptions for a selection of this collection, which is housed at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. In the future, full interviews will be added to the Lowcountry Digital Library as transcriptions become available.

Theodore Adams was one of the first Black students to integrate Orangeburg High School, Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1964. In this clip, he discusses the reason why he chose to integrate his local high school. View full interview

Arlonial DeLaine Bradford’s children were the first to integrate Anderson Elementary School in Kingstree, South Carolina. In this clip, Bradford describes her children’s experience during desegregation in Kingstree. View full interview

Millicent Brown integrated Rivers High School in Charleston, South Carolina in 1963. In this clip, Brown describes how her experiences with desegregation shaped who she is today. View full interview

Ruth Carter and her siblings integrated their local schools in the Drew School District in Drew, Mississippi in 1965. Carter discusses her struggle with allowing herself to remember her difficult experiences with desegregation. View full interview

Lucy Brenda Patterson Frinks integrated Abbeville High School in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1967. In this clip, Frinks describes the school climate and how other students treated her at Abbeville High School. View full interview

Emma Harvin integrated Sumter High School, Sumter, South Carolina in 1971. Harvin labels herself a rebel as she remembers receiving conflicting information in her history class. View full interview

Carleton Wilson highlights his experiences as a child chosen to help desegregate public schools in Warrenton, North Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement.