ON THIS DAY: 13 first graders desegregated Memphis City Schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

ON THIS DAY: 13 first graders desegregated Memphis City Schools

Image of the students taken from The Memphis 13 by University of Memphis professor Daniel Kiel. Image of the students taken from The Memphis 13 by University of Memphis professor Daniel Kiel.
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Fifty-five years ago, 13 first grade students began the process of public school desegregation.

The students are known as the Memphis 13, and one school honored them on Monday.

On October 3, 1961, 13 African-American students entered Memphis City Schools for the first time. 

Menelik Fombi, Dwania Kyles, and Harry Williams went into Bruce Elementary School. The other 10 students attended Gordon, Rozelle, and Springdale elementary schools.

Their peaceful integration into the schools ended nearly 100 years of segregation in Memphis public schools.

Rev. Samuel Kyles, who was the chairman of the Memphis NAACP's education committee, said he purposely chose first grade students believing the younger students were better suited to integrate than older students.

Bruce Elementary School students and staff honored the vision of civil rights leaders and the courage of Fombi, Kyles, and Williams.

University of Memphis professor Daniel Kiel created a 30 minute documentary about the Memphis 13. You can watch it below.

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