Peace, then trouble-then
HVV E'VE got a white kid in our class. He's O.K. too."
" One of the Negro parents came to our mothers' club meeting the other day. She's going to be a real asset."
Americans were wonderingmany of them were deeply worried-what would happen after the Supreme Court had insisted that all the State schools should open their classrooms to Negro children. Hitherto there were only separate schools for Negro and White children.
And what has happened?
The two quotations above are from a report by Loretta Butler, in the Catholic Interracialist.
The strcct in front of St. Peter Clever Centre here in Washington, D.C., was buzzing with comments like this the first week of school (Loretta Butler writes).
The junior high school across the street had always been "White." Suddenly interracial groups of students and teachers appeared all over the ueighbourhood.
White and Negro parents, children and teachers were actually talking to one another in friendly groups.
Ringside seat Here at our front door we had a ringside seat at the real-life drama of American principles going to work. We have seen, heard and felt much in the sometimes supercharged atmosphere.
We heard scattered remarks of surprise and interest, like these: "We only have three White students in our high school. I had lunch with this one, Jean, from our history class."
From a Coloured child : "Some of the kids are transferring to (X) school. Most of the kids there are White, but they won't have to pay car fare."
"The principal had to call a meeting today. One of the kids said he didn't like this other kid because he was White."
"Our principal told a White mother that all of the teachers were going to teach all of the kids from now on, and that we were supposed to respect the Negro teachers just like the White teachers."
Unfortunately this was a shortlived period of quiet adjustment. Nobody knows where it came from, but all of a sudden everyone was full of misgivings and apprehension.
The small number of rabblerousers became more 'vocal. Mobs began to form on the street where a few days before interracial groups were walking peacefully to and from school.
News of student strikes a n d demonstrations crept in from other parts of town.
Fifteen policemen patrolled the area all day long, conferring anxiously with one another from time to time and checking with the patrolcar radio.
Violence broke out
Groups of adults stood about in the street waiting to see if there would be a strike.
An elderly Negro lady muttered indignantly: "Slavery days are over. When are they going to see it?"
In other parts of the city actual violence had broken out. The police chief had to stop a mob of students from rushing excitedly to another school to incite a strike. The police risked their lives to keep aroused youngsters from getting injured as they rushed headlong into moving traffic. A U.S. Congressman promised to aid the strikers.
Students held mass meetings on school playgrounds. Absenteeism rose for several days, and incidents of violence were reported.
Fifteen students picketed t h e Supreme Court building.
The president of the newly organised National Association for the Advancement of White People appeared in the city to talk with parents. Mr. Bowles had recently urged adults in Delaware and Balti more to join his organisation to fight against integration.
The courageous. kindly principal of a previoully White technical high school, now with several hundred Negro students enrolled, turned a protest meeting into a football rally. Students returned to classes happy that the Friday game had not been postponed as rumoured.
The police warned against street demonstrations, and reminded the students that three days out of school for those under 16 was basis for a report to the Juvenile Court.
Attorney-General Brownell said the Justice Department was Watching the anti-integration demonstrations. He said the department would act if any violation of Federal laws developed.
This firm stand. with the complete co-operation of all the city departments involved, resulted in almost instantaneous dying out of the strikes.
A coloured kid calls : "Hey, wait up," to a White kid. The girls are back in the playground bouncing a volley ball around. An integrated football team is playing at the far side of the school.
The events of the past weeks have taught us much here in Washington. Our daily prayers are said with a real felt sense of gratitude to God for the opening of the eyes and hearts of so many men.
A mobile crib paused at the public house
Every night of Christmas week, members of the Knights of St. Columba Council No. 487 atcompanied a mobile crib through the streets of Chessington, Tolworth and Surbiton. stopping to sing carols outside cinemas and public houses and on street corners-anywhere suitable for drawing a crowd.
They left the Chessington parish church each evening at 8 o'clock and finished their programme about 10.30. No collection was taken. On the contrary, constant offers of money had to be turned away.
Friendly St. Ives
When the Mayor and Mayoress of St. Ives, Cornwall, visited St. Michael's Hospital, Hayle (conducted by the Daughters of the Cross), on Christmas morning, they presented gift parcels to the patients and a cheque for £150 to the Sister Superior on behalf of the St. Ives' Friends of St. Michael's.