Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Integrated Education

LEFFLER: Now at some point you were a student at the Lincoln University public school?

BOND: Yes.

LEFFLER: Was that an integrated school?

BOND: Yes. Well, when we moved there in 1945 the schools were segregated and again by custom, not by law. This is Pennsylvania after all. My father filed a lawsuit to integrate these schools. Before the suit could come to trial the school board capitulated, closed the black school and the black children simply crossed the street because these schools were across the street from each other and went to the white school.These are one-room country schools with outdoor toilets.

LEFFLER: Was the black school the Tom Thumb school. Is that what it was called?

BOND: No. That was an earlier school at another place. The Tom Thumb school I think was at Fort Valley. This was I guess Oxford Township -- whatever the name of the school was. I remember the black school had one teacher named Mrs. Brown, and a smaller number of students because blacks were in the minority in this community, and the white school had two rooms, one on top of the other with two teachers, one in each room. As you graduated in grades you moved upstairs. So they fired Ms. Brown. I don't know what happened to her. But she was of the casualties of school integration.

LEFFLER: So what do you remember about changing from one school to the other?

BOND: I never went to the black school so I didn't experience the change. My father sued so we wouldn't have to go to the black school. So I never went there. So I don't think I had much consciousness at that time that a change had occurred. There was just this empty building across the street that I knew had been the school, but I didn't immediately understand that at one time black kids were here, white kids were here.The white kids I went to school with were both the children of faculty members at Lincoln and white children from the neighborhood. As far as I know there was no disruption at all. The kids just took it as something that happened and it happened and made no notice of it. I'm sure the adults were ruffled by it. But none of that came into my life.