Pint-Sized Pioneers – Stories of the Memphis 13 (Local Memphis)

The first day of school can be exciting and scary all at once.

It was all that and more for a group of Memphis elementary school children in the year 1961.

Years after segregation was outlawed, the Memphis chapter of the NAACP went door to door asking African American parents to allow their 5 and 6 year old children to integrate city schools. The idea was to prevent the violent resistance other cities experienced when schools were desegregated.

Students who were chosen became known as the “Memphis 13.”

The day was October 3, 1961 when police officers stood watch as Joyce White, then Joyce Bell, stepped into Rozelle Elementary School, and Dwania Kyles walked into Bruce Elementary School.

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