Lewis’ death prompts memories

Published 2:13 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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To the editor: In the wake of John Lewis’ death I was reading articles and happened on one you published in February of this year about the desegregation of Troy’s schools. I smiled as I read about what a smooth transition Charles Henderson High went through because that’s how I remember it, too. I lived in Troy through sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grades and loved my freshman high school year at CHHS. I remember friends from that time fondly and have always wondered how they felt about the desegregation of the schools because I don’t remember talking about it. We just lived it.

Henry Lee Greer and his lovely wife Virginia were family friends of ours and, as a matter of fact, came to Troy at the request of my father, Dr. John P. Deason, who was the school superintendent during our time in Troy. It was my father who made the decision, along with leaders of the black community in Troy, to ease into desegregation by allowing black students who wished to attend the “white” schools to matriculate, and who worked with parents, the school board, and the local police to make sure there was as little trouble as possible. The students had no problem with the changes as I recall but a few of the community’s adults took exception to the desegregation. As a matter of fact, as a result my father was told by the Governor, George Wallace at the time, that he would never be hired in education in Alabama again and, indeed, he was not. When his contract in Troy ran out we moved to North Carolina where daddy was tasked with desegregating the schools in Alamance County, a thankless job if there ever was one.

I write this hoping that there are still a few people in Troy who remember the part daddy played in the effort to open Troy City Schools to all children regardless of race. Thanks for the opportunity to write this fond remembrance.

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Carol Deason McDowell

Elkin, N.C.