Top stories 2018: Green vs. New Kent's 50th anniversary honored local fight for school desegregation

The local fight for school desegregation anchored by a community leader was honored this year.

The Supreme Court case Green v. County School Board of New Kent, led by Dr. Calvin C. Green, effectively integrated county schools and called for change across the country 14 years after the Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.

The case celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and was remembered with celebratory events in May and June.

During segregation New Kent County, George W. Watkins Elementary School served as the black school, while the now-historic landmark New Kent School was the white school. About 15 percent of the county’s black students used a program called “Freedom of Choice” to attend the white school.

It was 1965 when Green, a New Kent resident, president of the county NAACP and parent of three sons in public school, decided to rally the community to make a change. He collected more than 500 signatures from residents and families on a petition asking the School Board to better integrate schools.

When the board refused to accept the petition, citing the Freedom of Choice plan, Green sued.

On May 27, 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled New Kent’s Freedom of Choice plan was insufficient, that it did not effectively integrate schools and made it the duty of local School Boards to eliminate segregation.

Students who attended New Kent High School under the Freedom of Choice plan reunited and discussed their struggles at a celebratory event in May.

A plaque honoring Green and the historic case was unveiled at the school in October.

The 50th anniversary commemorative committee said they continue to plan events honoring Green and the case, including an annual golf tournament that will premiere April 13, 2019.

Review archives were used in this story.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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