Fifth Avenue School - First Public School to Integrate in the State
September 9, 1963: Dr. Sonnie Hereford, III, who unknowingly was being followed by the KKK, walked his 6 year old son Sonnie Hereford IV to his first day of public school at Huntsville's 5th Avenue Elementary School, making history for the state. Governor Wallace and many others had worked hard to prevent this event from happening, but persistence prevailed and 4 black students integrated in Huntsville that day. They included John Brewton, Veronica Pearson and David Piggee in addition to young Sonnie Hereford. Governor Wallace ordered all public schools in Huntsville to remain closed for the first several days of the school year in an attempt to prevent integration. White parents were infuriated and frustrated and demanded action. As schools integrated in Huntsville, it led to the now famous picture of Governor Wallace reading The Birmingham News with the headline “Huntsville Defies Wallace”.
Sonnie Hereford III and Jack Ellis, Beside the Troubled Waters: A Black Doctor Remembers Life, Medicine, and Civil Rights in an Alabama Town, 2011.
Huntsville African-American History Project, https://soundcloud.com/user-589730745/tracks