Public Education and Domestic Terrorism

May 2014

With the end of the school year, I thought that we could explore some education history here in Tennessee.

In September 1957, three years after the Supreme Court ordered school integration, Nashville was one of the first Southern cities to start the process. The plan was to add a selected group to the first grade, and add a grade each year through 12th grade.

There were protests, rage, and new Protect Whites organizations sprang up to stop the measure. Many white churches tried to stop it, seeing segregation as Divine Will. At a rally at the War Memorial John Kasper said to a huge crowd, “Blood will run in the streets of Nashville if nigra children go to school with whites!… “Our country was born in violence”. Tomorrow is the day. Every blow that you strike will be a blow for freedom. I say that integration can be reversed. It has got to be a pressure down here which is more or less like a lit stick of dynamite, and you throw it in their laps and let them catch it, and then they can do what they want with it—let them worry about that.”

On the night before school started, he got his wish. A dynamite explosion destroyed part of Hattie Cotton Elementary School, a school where only one black child was to attend.

For all their noise, the protesters lost much of their fire after the act of domestic terrorism. Crowds still harassed, but the talk of murder died down.

Its sad to look back at the hatred of others done not so long ago on the same streets where I walk today. I am glad for all of the friends that I and my children made in school, and that decent people fought bigotry and violence to bring us closer together as a nation. In my own small way, I try to do the same in these modern times.

The website Southernspaces.org has a much more detailed article if you wish to learn more.

By the way, the Bible verse on the man’s sign states “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”

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