Desegregation 50 Years Later Hits Home In East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/25/07-Tyler

Desegregation 50 Years Later Hits Home In East Texas

It was 50 years ago to the day, when nine black students were escorted into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

And after half a century, some East Texans appreciate the lessons learned from a darker time in our nation's history.  

"Integration means becoming part of a bigger world,"said Regina Lee Newsome of Houston.

Newsome grew up in Tyler and graduated Valedictorian of Emmett Scott High school's class of 1970--one of the last graduates to cross the stage at Scott High School before total integration.

Even though seeing her school close its doors was a sad occasion, she said it was a positive move in the right direction.  

"We live in a world that's diverse, with people from different nationalities, different commitments, different views, and it's okay," she said.  "You become acclimated and you move forward."

"It made it better for all of us," said Newsome's mother, Eloise Lee, a retired teacher.

Lee taught in Tyler before and after desegregation.

And thanks to brave people like the Little Rock Nine, she said moving forward was a little bit easier here at home.  

"I'm just appreciative of all the sacrifices that those people made," said Lee.  "They made it better for all of us--better opportunities, and I appreciate it."

And it is those opportunities which Newsome said have made the world a better place to live.   

"If people, from the heart, understand that we're all the same, and God love's us all, then I think we'll be able to live together," she said.

It's a message being taught and still appreciated 50 years later.

Layron Livingston, KLTV 7 News llivingston@kltv.com

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