The Johnston County Board of Education recently honored the African-American Students for Integration.
These former students, also known as the Freedom of Choice Trailblazers, were black students who attended traditionally white Johnston County schools during the Freedom of Choice period, before the mandatory integration of schools in 1969-70.
At its Feb. 14 meeting, the Johnston school board paid tribute to these trailblazers who chose to attend a white school.
On hand for the meeting were Dr. Alton Anderson, Rose Marie Bryant Byrd, Donald Liles, Phyllis Palmer, Horace Sanders, Nathaniel Sanders Jr., Vandalyn Sanders Bradley, Carvin Stevens, Denise Willie Seabrooks, Berneatha Hinton Morrison, Oscar Sanders and Valerie Williams.
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Unable to attend were Lindal Altman, Donnell Bell, Evelyn Carter, Evelyn Cotton, Roderick Ennis, Lena H. Hunter, Vernon King, Patricia Ann Lee, Kenneth Matthews, Rhonda McLean, Herman Palmer, Linda Simpson, Jacqueline Stevens, Kenneth Stevens and Robert Atlas Williams. Honored posthumously were Felix Allen and Matthew Brown.
The board saluted the trailblazers for their courage in helping to integrate Johnston County schools. The honorees spoke about their life accomplishments and about the school they attended during the Freedom of Choice period.
Dr. Alton Anderson and Rose Marie Bryant Byrd, the first black students to graduate from Smithfield High, presented a thank-you certificated to Superintendent Ross Renfrow and school board chairman Mike Wooten.