On September 6, 1965, thirteen Black students stepped onto the campus of Lanier Jr. High School for Boys in Macon, Georgia to begin the 1965-66 school year. The school built in 1948 for the education of white boys braced itself for a historical moment. The thirteen youngsters were the first of their race to enroll in this junior high school. Across Bibb County that morning over 240 Black students attended classes for the first time with white students.
Several of them like the Lanier Junior High 13, was the first Black students enrolled in the segregated white junior high schools at Miller, McEvoy, and Willingham. Their appearance began an experiment to see if a society segregated by race, could desegregate and become one nation.
Fifty-four years after integrating Lanier Jr. High School, the Lanier Junior High 13 will discuss their experiences from the ninth grade through graduation in a symposium at the Tubman African American Museum.
The symposium, hosted by the museum, explores the theme, Unsung Heroes: The Four Years That Made the Last Fifty Years Possible. Four of the Lanier Junior Thirteen, Carlton Haywood, Sylvester Royal, James Thomas, and Harold Michael Harvey will discuss their experience those four years. The integrators will explore the impact this experience had on their lives and lessons learned from the first fifty years of integration.
“We went through this period of school desegregation under the radar. When it was over, some of us went to work, or the military or college. What we brought to the future was of little note to the world swiveling around us in 1969,” Harold Michael Harvey offered.
“We were ignored by our classmates, teachers, and peers in the Black community. No one knows what that experience was like, except us. Recently, a group of us got together and decided it was time to tell our story,” Harvey said.
The symposium coincides with the 50th Miller-Lanier Class Reunion. The class reunion takes place on October 18-19, 2019. The seminar is on Saturday, October 19, 2019, from 10:00, am until noon at the Tubman. The public is invited to come and participate in the question and answer session after the symposium.
The Lanier Junior High 13 are as follows: Alvin Russell (deceased), James Mason (deceased), Lonnie Hicks (deceased), Larry Carson, Hamp Davis, Ed Jones, Sylvester Royal, Kenneth Nixon, Earnest Lester, James Thomas, Larry Jackson, Gerald Neely, and Harold Michael Harvey. Two weeks later they were joined by eighth-graders Malcolm Pounds (deceased) and Eugene Mosley.
FROM THE DESK OF CYN HARVEY
Harold Michael Harvey is the author of Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org