On today's date (August 28) in 1968, 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington and listened to Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
That event was the pinnacle of the Civil Rights Movement that summer and Dr. King predicted that it would "go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation." And it had an impact right here in Williamson County, Tennessee. At the time, African Americans made up about 1/3 of the County's 25,000 residents.
- The desegregation of the seven County-run whites-only high schools and the one high school for Black students (Natchez High School)
- Employment of Black residents by the City and County governments
- Jury service for Black residents
- Improved opportunities for employment in local factories
- Equal opportunity in public housing
- Service in all public business (i.e., no longer being denied equal service by restaurants, stores, etc)
|The Nashville Banner, August 28, 1963|
This was not the first time the WCCCM had made such appeals to community leaders. Two years earlier, in August 1961, seven years after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the WCCCM had filed a formal request of the Franklin Special School Board to desegregate the schools in the City for elementary and middle school students. They had also asked at that time for greater representation on jury duty and in leadership positions in city and county government.
It wasn't until the fall of 1967 that the Williamson County School Board desegregated the County schools. The formerly all-Black Natchez High School briefly became an "annex" to Franklin High School. No attempt was made by the County to archive or save the trophies or artifacts important to Natchez High School, which had a thriving football team, marching band, and other extracurricular programs important to the Black community. Following the desegregation of public schools, several private schools formed in the area in reaction to this change.