Jo Ann Allen Boyce and 11 other students desegregated their high school in Clinton, Tennessee. Then the riots came.
Editor’s Note: This is the second story in The Firsts, a five-part series about the children who desegregated America’s schools.
The dress Jo Ann Allen Boyce had picked out for her first day of school, August 27, 1956, was beautiful: a black top and matching skirt with a pattern around the hem. Her grandmother had made it. In fact, her grandmother, a brilliant seamstress, had made Jo Ann an entire wardrobe of clothes for that first week.
Jo Ann had given herself bangs and wore her long hair down. “For some reason I thought that was a really cute hairdo,” she told me recently. She got ready and headed out the door. At Green McAdoo Elementary School, just down the road from her home in Clinton, Tennessee, she met up with nine other Black classmates, their pastor, and family members to pray.