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First School in Va. to Desegregate Marks Anniversary of Integration

When Ronald Deskins, Lance Newman and Mike Jones retraced the concrete path to the back entrance of the Stratford school building Tuesday, there were no police officers lining the way. There was no anxiety or fear of violent reprisal. It was vastly different from their walk into the building exactly 57 years prior, when they — along with Gloria Thompson — became the first black students to integrate a public school in Virginia, where elected officials fought to keep black children from attending school with whites. On their first day, a long line of police officers ensured their safe passage to the building and a gaggle of reporters documented their every step, down to what Deskins had for breakfast. Minutes, hours and days later, other black students would make the same harrowing journey into schools that had previously been off-limits to them.