Parts of de­seg­re­ga­tion came to TPS 50 years ago

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By John Klein

Some stu­dents said there were so many things hap­pen­ing in 1968 they barely no­ticed the de­seg­re­ga­tion of fac­ulty at Tulsa Pub­lic Schools.

Linda Berger, one of the white teach­ers who was as­signed to Booker T. Wash­ing­ton in 1968, said it went so smoothly that it doesn't stand out in her mem­ory.

“It was such a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one,” said Berger, who moved to Tulsa in 1968 from Mis­souri. “It was a great teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all of us in­volved. It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence all the way around for ev­ery­one.

“The only thing I re­mem­ber is we had meet­ings to keep on top of any pos­si­ble feel­ings that might emerge but noth­ing did.”

Many stu­dents at Booker T. Wash­ing­ton had white teach­ers for the first time in their lives.

“We def­i­nitely no­ticed that sud­denly we had some white teach­ers at Booker T. Wash­ing­ton and that some of our fa­vorite teach­ers had been trans­ferred to other schools,” said Marvin McQuar­ters, a mem­ber of BTW's Class of 1968.

McQuar­ters said it was a dif­fer­ent era. Chil­dren, re­gard­less of color, grew up with a lot of re­spect for teach­ers.

“Every­thing was cool (when the white teach­ers came to BTW),” said McQuar­ters. “I re­mem­ber that it went pretty smooth. Part of that was how our par­ents raised us. You re­spected teach­ers. If you got in trou­ble in school you were go­ing to be in trou­ble at home.

“If my mem­ory is cor­rect, ev­ery­one got along pretty well. I don't re­mem­ber any­thing hap­pen­ing.”

McQuar­ters and other mem­bers of the Class of 1968 from Booker T. Wash­ing­ton, Cen­tral and McLain high schools will gather for a 50th class re­union this week.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by then-TPS Su­per­in­ten­dent Larry Zenke in 1982, nearly 190 teach­ers were in­vol­un­tar­ily trans­ferred to al­ter white-to-black fac­ulty ra­tios in Tulsa Pub­lic Schools in 1968.

Three years later, TPS be­gan its first phase of de­seg­re­ga­tion that in­cluded con­struc­tion of a mag­net pro­gram at Booker T. Wash­ing­ton High School.

Many of the north Tulsa stu­dents in the Class of 1968 first be­gan to feel the im­pact of de­seg­re­ga­tion in 1965 when at­ten­dance ar­eas of Booker T. Wash­ing­ton and Carver Ju­nior High School, which were pre­dom­i­nantly black, were changed. That sent many black stu­dents to Cen­tral High School and Roo­sevelt Ju­nior High School.

In 1967, por­tions of John­son Ele­men­tary and Carver were added to schools with mostly white stu­dent pop­u­la­tions.

What was once a com­mu­nity in north Tulsa was be­ing split apart through stu­dents.

“That's why we are hav­ing this 50th re­union with all three schools be­cause we were all friends,” said Doris Mar­shall, who was sent to Cen­tral High School. “We had grown up to­gether. Many of us have re­mained friends all of th­ese years later. So, we in­vited ev­ery­one.”

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