Class of ’65 marchers made great strides

Published 10:18 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

I got word on Thursday that the U.S. Jones Class of 1965 is going to have a reunion at the Demopolis Civic Center this coming Wednesday.

The note I got also said that the class will hold a mock graduation, and left the name andphone number of Ella Thomas Jackson, who is living in Michigan.

I gave her a call, and she told me much of the story that you see on Page A1 of today’s Demopolis Times.

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The story is incredible. The students were recruited by the NAACP to try to encourage people to take part in the Civil Rights Movement demonstrations. The idea was for them to walk out of the school and march downtown.

They never returned to the school, but they received their diplomas in the mail.

For taking a stand for what was right and in trying to effect change, they missed out on a lot of senior-year activities, like the prom and walking the line to receive their diplomas.

They were assaulted with water hoses and beaten with billy clubs. They were put in jail in Demopolis, transferred to the jail in Linden, then placed in a prison camp in Thomaston.

They marched from Demopolis to Selma to Montgomery to Washington.

This Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. — 45 years after their graduation day — the U.S. Jones Class of 1965 will finally walk the line.

It seems like they did enough walking that year, with attempt after attempt after attempt to march downtown, the three attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery and other demonstration marches locally and regionally.

There is still that little distance left to walk, but while those earlier walks were for equality for all people, this Wednesday’s walk is just for them, and well deserved.

The public is invited to turn out Wednesday and witness this last walk for the Class of ’65.

I grew up knowing nothing but an integrated classroom, and am a better person for that. Those steps that the Class of ’65 took were great strides for our society that benefit our lives to this day.

David B. Snow is the managing editor of The Demopolis Times.