In January 1963, African American parents of students in Macon County, Alabama, sued the Macon County Board of Education to desegregate the county’s public schools. Though the United States Supreme Court had declared school segregation unconstitutional nearly nine years earlier, the board had taken no steps to integrate local schools. In August 1963, Federal District Judge Frank Johnson ordered the school board to begin integration immediately.
The school board selected 13 African American students to integrate Tuskegee High School that fall. On September 2, 1963, the scheduled first day of integrated classes, Alabama Governor George Wallace ordered the school closed due to “safety concerns.” The school reopened a week later, and on September 10, 1963, the second day of classes, white students began to withdraw. Within a week, all 275 white students had left the school.
Most fleeing white students enrolled at Macon Academy, a newly formed, all-white private school. In support of the school and its efforts to sidestep federal law to maintain school segregation, Governor Wallace and the school board approved the use of state funds to provide white students abandoning the public school system with scholarships to attend Macon Academy. Meanwhile, the Macon County School Board ordered Tuskegee High School closed due to low enrollment and split its remaining African American students among all-white high schools in Notasulga and Shorter, Alabama. White students in those high schools boycotted for several days and many eventually transferred to Macon Academy.
Now Macon-East Academy, the school relocated near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1995, and today operates as one of several private schools in the Alabama Black Belt with origins rooted in resistance to integration. As of the 2007-2008 school year, Macon-East Academy’s student population of more than 400 was 98% white and less than 1% African American.
“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar. America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans. The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood. EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.