Towns in states across the South have celebrated decades of desegregation. This summer, Hoxie celebrated their 60 year anniversary. Now, Randolph County is gearing up for their integration celebration.
Fifty years ago, 41 African American students integrated into Pocahontas, Sloan Hendrix and Biggers-Reyno School Districts.
To celebrate the milestone, the Eddie Mae Herron Center and the Office of Corporate and Community Education at Black River Technical College are hosting the event.
According to event coordinators, the celebration is designed to "honor those students who walked through doors previously locked to them."
"This is an event that really, our community has never talked about a great deal," Dr Jan Ziegler told Region 8 News. "We've never asked the students who were on the front line, the African American students, what was this experience like for you?"
Though Dr. Ziegler said the experience in Randolph County was much more mild than in Little Rock or even Hoxie, it was still a human experience.
"And everyone felt it in a different way. What we're trying to do is look at the breadth of all the different types of experiences the students had," Dr. Ziegler said.
Dr. Ziegler said the upcoming celebration will affect more than just Randolph County residents too.
"Jonesboro people have a special vested interest because many of these students were bussed from grades 9-12 to the Booker T Washington school in Jonesboro," Dr. Ziegler said. "Or if they went to school here at Eddie Mae Herron, they were bussed to the W. F. Branch school in Newport. So I would especially invite the Newport and Jonesboro people who had any connection to those schools to come out."
The event, called "Looking Back to See More Clearly," takes place Saturday, September 26 at the Randolph County Development Center on the campus of BRTC. The reception begins at 6 p.m. Dinner will follow with a program featuring Little Rock attorney, civil rights activist and award-winning author Grif Stockley.
However, since tickets will only be on sale until Tuesday, September 22, Ziegler urges people to go ahead and purchase tickets.
Tickets are $25. The price includes the cost of the meal and helps with fundraising efforts for the Eddie Mae Herron Center in Pocahontas.
For information on ticket sales and the upcoming event, contact the Eddie Mae Herron Center at (870) 892-4433. You can also visit the center online.