Thirty years ago, the school district tried and failed to bring black and white students together. Will its latest effort undermine one of the city's most successful schools?
Manassas High School students peruse books during a Reading is Fundamental rally. (AP Photo/Jim Weber)
Samantha Crawford, an 18-year-old high-school senior, doesn't like to use the word "ghetto" to describe her neighborhood in the center of Memphis, Tennessee, but she can't think of a better one. In Binghampton, people drink and hang out. They are transient, moving from apartment to apartment and job to job. Many don't work at all. Samantha speculates that few have finished college, or even high school.
In the past two years, though, Samantha has begun to look at her neighborhood as an inspiration. "It's not about where I stay, or wherever I come from, but what I'm going to make of it," she says.
Samantha once earned only Bs and Cs. Now, she makes straight As. She had dreamed of college, but wasn't sure how she'd get there. Now, she's feeling overwhelmed by the choices available to her. In the past few months, she received five college acceptance letters, along with a scholarship to a local community college.
She attributes her success to her family, by which she means her mom, but also her teachers and principal at Manassas High School, located across town in North Memphis. "If you fail at Manassas..." she says, before stopping herself. "I don't see how that's possible."