Civil Rights Hero to Speak at OEHS
Feb 12, 2015 08:58AM ● Published by Steven Jack
Bobby Cain walks to school on the first day of desegregation in Nashville. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee History for Kids)
The honor goes to Tennessee resident Bobby Cain, who faced threats of violence while walking to school, at school, and during his graduation ceremonies.
School District 308 welcomes Cain to talk about the challenges he faced while attending Clinton High School, in Clinton, Tenn., and more at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19, at Oswego East High School. There will also be a viewing of the documentary The Clinton 12, as well as meet-and-greet and question-and-answer sessions.
Cain and his fellow African American classmates became known as the “Clinton 12,” after they started attending Clinton High School in fall 1956. The school was among the first to undergo court-ordered desegregation following the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.
Each weekday morning the “Clinton 12” faced a variety of challenges as they walked together through town to get to their high school.
For example, on Dec. 4, 1956, a white minister escorting the high school students was severely beaten, according to the school’s Wikipedia entry.
Clinton High’s principal even feared for Cain’s life as he took part in graduation ceremonies. According to the Tennessee Historical Society, Cain’s classmates stood up to protect him from segregation activists as he changed into his cap and gown to partake in his 1957 graduation ceremony.
After graduating from Clinton High School, Cain went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Tennessee State University, Nashville, before beginning a 30-year career with the Tennessee Department of Human Services. He has been recognized by three Tennessee governors, with several proclamations from Tennessee Representatives and others in state offices for his role in desegregation.
Cain’s appearance at Oswego East High School coincides with Black History Month. The event is co-sponsored by Community Unit School District 308 and the DuPage County NAACP Youth Council.
PROVIDED BY SCHOOL DISTRICT 308