Luverne High School steps back in time and remembers

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Luverne High School hasn't changed much over the years but its fabric has. "In 1965 Luverne changed," said one speaker.

Did it ever.

It is here where the school honored the late Joseph Harry McDonald during a school assembly, the first of 10 black students to attend Luverne High. McDonald graduated in 1969. He died last year at the age of 59.

"I think about my life as a little girl," said Terrie Bedgood, who was also part of the original 10, breaking down the race barrier at Luverne High, 11 years after desegregation became the law of the land. "I never knew what hatred was," she told the audience.

More than 45 years after the students made history, they still remember what it was like on that very first day of school. It was nothing like today, peace and quiet.

"They yelled at us to go home, threw bricks. They screamed 'niggers, go home! We don't want you here,' Bedgood said.

What gave the ceremony a spirit of candor was the fact the white students at the time, now adults in their 60's, admitted they should have done more. "What I regret is I didn't have the courage to be friends with them and stand up for them," said Martha Morgan, who was among those who came up with the idea of honoring the original 10.

"We were all children and trying to survive," explained Bedgood.

Either way, it was a dose of reality for the students Thursday at Luverne High School.

"I don't think I could have survived and gone through what they went through," said 16-year old Leshia Thompson.

They didn't see it then but they do now.

Former students like Morgan and Bedgood believe they ended up learning the overriding lesson of the day; learning what it means to work together and look beyond skin color.

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