We found these amazing photos too late to be able to include them in the August magazine, but they are featured in the website version of the cover story, “A Gray Matter”, a narrative of the desegregation of Dallas schools from the perspective of people who lived through it.
The first photo ran with a story in the Sept. 9, 1975 Dallas Morning News titled, “Desegregation Talks Held.” The print of this photo, and the two others that were never published, were dug out of the collections of the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library. None of the people in the photos were identified, so it wasn’t until Woodrow alumnus Kyle Rains commented on the story that we knew the names of at least two of the people in the final photos:
“In the last photo, that’s the late Jim Mattox (U.S. Congressman and Texas Attorney General, Woodrow class of 1961) and Ralph Brinegar, son-in -law of R.L.Thornton (son Franklin was a student at Long then). What a combination! There’s your proof that those days drew us all together.”
It made us wonder, who else is in these photos? Maybe even some students who grew up and settled in the neighborhood? (It looks like that’s Brinegar in the second photo with the megaphone, too.) If you know any names, please let us know in the comments. More on the story after the jump:
The Dallas Morning News story focused on the school board trying to finish a desegregation proposal to submit to Judge Mack Taylor. (This was when the plan in place had been appealed, and Taylor was seeking new proposals, ultimately choosing the Dallas Alliance task force’s plan, which neighbor Claire Cunningham participated in creating.)
It’s the very end of the story that mentions why Woodrow Wilson High School, J.L. Long Junior High and Robert E. Lee Elementary protesters were gathered at the Dallas ISD administration building:
“Prior to Saturday’s closed session, a group of about 150 East Dallas residents met on the steps of the school administration building to protest published reports the school board i sconsidering proposals which would call for the closing of Woodrow Wilson High School, J.L. Long Junior High School and Robert E. Lee Elementary.
The residents said such a plan would drive residents from East Dallas at a time when attempts are being made to attract families back to that section of the city.
State Rep. Jim Mattox, speaking to the crowd, said the school board should do nothing which would disrupt areas of the city which are already integrated.”
After the magazines were delivered, I heard from Natalie Davis, who was the PTA president at Robert E. Lee at the time. She mentioned that attorneys were representing neighborhood families in this process, and I’m going to chat with her and post our conversation as a podcast in coming days.
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