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Lines Were Drawn - Remembering Court-Ordered Integration at a Mississippi High School

Lines Were Drawn

Remembering Court-Ordered Integration at a Mississippi High School

Edited by Teena F. Horn, Alan Huffman, and John Griffin Jones
Preface by Claiborne Barksdale
Paperback : 9781496814814, 290 pages, 20 b&w illustrations, August 2017
Hardcover : 9781628462319, 294 pages, 20 b&w illustrations, January 2016

Oral histories gathered by three graduates of a major high school in Jackson, Mississippi


Lines Were Drawn looks at a group of Mississippi teenagers whose entire high school experience, beginning in 1969, was under federal court-ordered racial integration. Through oral histories and other research, this group memoir considers how the students, despite their markedly different backgrounds, shared a common experience that greatly influences their present interactions and views of the world—sometimes in surprising ways. The book is also an exploration of memory and the ways in which the same event can be remembered in very different ways by the participants.

The editors (proud members of Murrah High School's Class of 1973) and more than fifty students and teachers address the reality of forced desegregation in the Deep South from a unique perspective—that of the faculty and students who experienced it and made it work, however briefly. The book tries to capture the few years in which enough people were so willing to do something about racial division that they sacrificed immediate expectations to give integration a true chance.

This period recognizes a rare moment when the political will almost caught up with the determination of the federal courts to finally do something about race. Because of that collision of circumstances, southerners of both races assembled in the public schools and made integration work by coming together, and this book seeks to capture those experiences for subsequent generations.


"If I could choose one book of 2016 to create dialogue, Lines Were Drawn would be it. Lines Were Drawn begs people to share their thoughts about the value of public education, the importance of equal opportunity, and the need to engage with those of different backgrounds and experiences. These concerns entail the essence of American democracy. Electoral debate since Lines Were Drawn was published underscores the centrality to the American Experiment with Democracy of the issues discussed. The evidence for an expansive social sphere in which people of disparate color and class mix successfully, unselfconsciously, offers optimism that no historical moment will extinguish the aspirations of the American Revolution. "

- Jay Wiener, Clarion-Ledger

"Line Were Drawn: Remembering Court-Ordered Integration at a Mississippi High School is a fascinating group memoir of more than fifty students from the 1973 class of Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi. It provides an "inside-out remembrance" of the three remarkable years after the court ruling required the mass integration
of Jackson's schools, beginning halfway through the 1970–1971 school year (p. x). . . . Lines Were Drawn offers a fascinating, emotive, and engaging insight into the lived experiences of forced integration. Minor shortcomings neither dim the enthusiasm and dedication to the project shown by the editors nor detract from the value of the extraordinary story the Murrah class of 1973 has to tell. "

- Emma Folwell, The Journal of Southern History, Volume LXXXIII, No. 2, May 2017

"Most importantly, the volume provides insight into the unfinished process of racial reconcili­ation in the Magnolia State. . . . Ultimately, lay-readers and researchers, alike, will be intrigued by reading this saga of cross-racial acceptance and the struggles for social change. "

- The Journal of Mississippi History, Marco Robinson, Prairie View A&M University

"In this inspiring and bittersweet memoir, graduates of Murrah High School look back on their role in the school desegregation crisis of the early 1970s. This important book speaks to our condition today, and it should be required reading for both educators and public officials."

- John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi

"This volume is a fascinating treasure trove of accounts of the events arising out of the massive desegregation of the public schools of Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s and '70s as remembered and recorded by many of the students, teachers, and parents who were directly involved in that tumultuous experience. This book points out the grim reality of how an uncompromising resistance to school desegregation was met with a more massive political and judicial response, resulting in a devil's brew of conflict that for a time threatened the very existence of effective public education in Mississippi. Now as a result of the experience of those years, we can reflect on the admirable courage of those confused but committed students and their teachers who learned and taught some very wise lessons that provide us with guidelines for future racial progress and reconciliation."

- William F. Winter, fifty-seventh governor of Mississippi