A Look Back At A Forgotten Past

HOXIE, AR (T. WARD MEDIA) – In the summer of 1955 a small town in Northeast Arkansas would find itself at the center of national attention. But before that we must look back to the event leading up to integration. In 1954 the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brown in Brown v. Board of Education, officially ending segregation in public schools. Two schools in Arkansas would integrate following the decision before Hoxie. However, the reason for so much attention on Hoxie is on July 25, 1955 LIFE Magazine paid the school a visit. Just 14 days after the school board voted unanimously to integrate the colored school.

LIFE Magazine Cover and photo featuring Hoxie School Integration

This issue highlighted the schools compliance with the recent Supreme Court decision. It showed that even in southern America, integration was happening without issue. Unfortunately for this small town of less than 2000 residents, almost 400 segregationists would descend on Hoxie and make a stand. Segregationist leaders tried to intimidate, harass, and threaten school board leaders for their stand on integration. Their threats would alarm citizens and faculty alike. The threats of violence from segregationists alarmed parents enough, that several students were kept from school; not for reasons of integration itself. It would ultimately lead to the school filing a Federal Lawsuit against the segregationist groups, after the Governor’s Office refused to get involved.

Hoxie School District v. Herbert Brewer, et al. Complaint (Courtesy: DocsTeach.org)

In November of 1955, Federal District Judge Thomas C. Trimble ruled that segregationists had “planned and conspired” to prevent integration at Hoxie Public School, and he issued a temporary restraining order against the segregationists. A court hearing to make an injunction against the segregationists permanent was held in just one month later. This court case has been reference in court opinions since 1955 as a means to enforce civil rights laws across the nation.

Mr. Jim Green, a seventh grader during the 1955 integration.

Now the story brings us to today. The story of Hoxie’s 1955 integration has largely been forgotten by the American people. The lives of black Americans has greatly been improved due to legislation and activism for civil rights. In 2019, children of all races, colors, and creeds can get an education without worrying about segregation. This story is being retold by first hand accounts of students, faculty, and citizens of Hoxie. Retold so that the progress made by the School Board and the citizens of Hoxie will never be forgotten. Retold in the newest film from T. Ward Media, ‘Right In The Sight Of God’, set to release in 2020.

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Ms. Ethel Tompkins, a 7th grade student of the Hoxie Colored School in 1955, shares a smile in a still shot from the upcoming film ‘Right In The Sight Of God’.

For more information on Hoxie School’s integration of 1955, click HERE.