Epilogue Alan Huffman

Someone stole Angie Baxter’s yellow Toyota from the Murrah parking lot one day, then brought it back and parked it in the same spot.

She figured out what happened because the gas tank was empty and there was popcorn on the floor. We had to laugh. For most of us, that was about as bad as it got at Murrah. Some students did experience truly traumatic events, but overall, ours was a remarkably smooth transition, considering what was at stake.

It’s true that some students—black and white—were harassed now and then. I was harassed, but it was really just a test, a way for a group of guys to show dominance. I was nervous walking the halls for a few days because there were four or five of them, but it wasn’t like I could hide, so I ignored it as best I could and eventually it went away. It was just garden-variety bullying, the kind that happens in any school. In a way, it helped prepare me for minor conflicts later in life.

In hindsight, most of the bumps we experienced seem inevitable, yet they pale in comparison with racial crimes that had been committed before, or with violent crimes that are routinely committed in Jackson today.

Our experience illustrates that integration could have and should have worked. Even Barry, Amelia, and Cassandra recall enjoying much about their time at Murrah, and learning from it, which has something to do with the fact that we were in it together, exploring new territory. But for a variety of reasons, enough white parents pulled their kids out during the coming decade that integration eventually failed at Murrah, which is something we did not foresee. Today, Murrah is basically a black school. It would have been interesting to see where the school would have gone had the dynamic we experienced continued.

As it was, the black/white ratio of the student body went from 60/40 in our junior year to 65/35 during our senior year, and by then, the writing was on the wall.