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Integration of Wakefield High School

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In 1959, the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the Virginia laws written under the dictum of Massive Resistance, designed to prevent school integration, and the Court paved the way for schools in the state to integrate. In February of 1959, four black students enrolled in Arlington’s Stratford Junior High School. Much has been written about the momentous arrival of the students and their memories have been captured. Little has been recorded of the integration experiences of other black students who followed, as the law permitted, or when schools for black students were closed.

The purpose of this project of the Wakefield High School Education Foundation was to collect and share the reflections of some of the students and staff who were part of the integration of Wakefield. In 1962, perhaps six black students voluntarily integrated Wakefield coming from Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, the school serving their Hatfield neighborhood or from private schools. In 1963, the numbers increased to about a dozen black students. In the fall of 1964, about 250 students arrived at Wakefield with the closing of Hoffman-Boston Senior High School.

While there are articles in the school and local papers and yearbooks that serve as records of the planning for the closing of Hoffman-Boston and the transfer of students to Wakefield, the richest source of information, the memories and reflections of those who participated, had not been explored. After doing background research, the authors reached out to alumni and staff from that time at Wakefield. Many generously and enthusiastically spoke with us and with current students at Wakefield. We hope this will be the beginning of a dialogue; that others will share their reflections and that those thoughts, memories and facts can be added to this document and it will can become a part of the permanent history of Wakefield.

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014

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