Integration of Matoaka High School

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
October 3, 1957

Area Schools Returning To Normal After Integration Demonstrations

Matoaka High School, with police help, was back to something like normal operation yesterday. There was no recurrence of the two previous days' protest demonstrations by white students against racially mixed classes.

Quiet also prevailed at the Hemphill-Capels Junior High, near Welch in neighboring McDowell County. It likewise had been the scene of anti-integration demonstrations Monday and Tuesday.

At Matoaka High, Tuesday two Negro boys were pummeled by white students. Some 200 whites, out of an enrollment of 670 cut classes and took part in the demonstration. Because of it, school officials sent home the six Negroes - out of 10 enrolled - who had come to school.

When school time came yesterday, four state troopers, two deputy sheriffs and some town policemen were on the scene. They kept students moving into the building, giving them no chance to congregate on the street where they demonstrated before.

Four Negro youngsters arrived on a separate bus and were escorted into the building by troopers, without incident. As far as could be determined from outside, they were the only Negroes who reported for class. Newsmen have not been permitted to go inside.

Principal Ralph Bird has adopted this policy on students who missed class to take part in the protest: They are not being re-admitted until they have come to school with their parents and conferred with him.

Many students were escorted by their parents when they arrived at the high school yesterday.

At midday, Bird said, "I have been very busy this morning with these conferences." He added that he does not think the number still absent will be very large once the conferences are completed.

No attendance figure for the day was available. However, all indications were that the number of students who stayed away was comparatively small.

Late yesterday Bird said that a "little over 100" students, each accompanied by at least one parent, returned to the school.

"The parents are not upholding their children, you can rest assured," the principal said.

He explained that conferences held so far with students and parents have shown that the youngsters made a mistake and have learned their lesson.

At Princeton High School, meanwhile, eight youths were suspended and Principal Melvin McClain said he told them not to return until their parents came with them.

He related that four of the youths were picked up Tuesday by police when they allegedly were loitering in the vicinity of Princeton Junior High School.

Classes in Princeton were described as normal yesterday. McClain said he stepped among a group of two "outsiders" and about 10 boys in the high school corridor yesterday, and that the youths returned to their classes.

The other two persons left the building after "some argument," McClain reported. They were not identified.


West Virginia Archives and History