Black History Month: The Clinton 12

Information true to the best of my knowledge.

A few years ago, I discovered an interesting story when I was watching a Disney Channel commercial—you know, back in the good old days. The commercial displayed Cameron Boyce†, his parents, his sister, and his grandmother sharing the importance of their family history. Said commercial aired during Black History Month, and it honestly surprised me that not many people knew about this significant event in the Civil Rights Movement!

Click here to watch the short Disney Channel commercial:

According to Aaron Broder of Scholastic, a group of twelve teens decided to attend a Tennessee high school as the first official African-American students to integrate an all-white high school after the well-known Brown V. Board of Education case. Those twelve students would then be named the Clinton 12. According to African American Registry, on August 26, 1956, they met up at Green McAdoo School as a group and walked to Clinton High School together. It was a small step towards equality, but a step that would continue to get larger as the years went by.

The infamous students were; JoAnn Crozier Allen Boyce, Bobby Cain, Anna Theresser Caswell, Minnie Ann Dickey, Ronald Gordon Hayden†, William Latham†, Regina Turner Smith, Robert Thacker†, and Alvah McSwain Lambert, Maurice Soles†, Gail Ann Eppa Upton, and Alred Williams (2).

Many people, like myself, are told that Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas is the first school to be desegregated on September 4, 1957 (3). If you go online to search for which school was the first in the historic movement, the words ‘Little Rock’ are shown. Stated in Scholastic, the Clinton 12 event was made into a documentary in order to educate others on the true story behind the building block. The video was directed by Keith Henry McDaniel and narrated by James Earl Jones in 2006, premiering at the 2007 Nashville Film Festival in all its glory. McDaniel stated that he “grew up 30 miles from Clinton and I didn’t know the story,” so he did his research to bring into light the full occurrence that changed the minds of today (1).

Black History Month is when we look back on the rights and wrongs that were done unto citizens of the United States of America, and to reflect on what has changed and how people can change for the best and worst of our country, our society, and our world.