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Lynwood Park students who integrated DeKalb Schools to be honored

Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 1/16/2016, 5:16 a.m.

Seventeen students from the all-black Lynwood Park High and Elementary School who integrated DeKalb County Schools in 1967 will be recognized at a Jan. 18 Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner by the city of Brookhaven.

The men and women – called the Lynwood Integrators – were the first black students to attend Cross Keys and Chamblee high schools, 13 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that racial segregation of public schools was illegal.

Students who followed them in 1968 and 1969 before the School District closed the black school and other Lynwood Park High and Elementary School alumni also are expected to attend the dinner that is open to the community.

The dinner, held on the national holiday that honors the civil rights icon, takes place at 5 p.m. at the Lynwood Community Center.

This week, some of the students remembered the hostile environment they went into in 1967.

Barbara Shaw, one of the 17, went to the eighth grade at Cross Keys High. She remembers being terrified every day.

Lynwood Park, DeKalb’s oldest black neighborhood, is located off Peachtree Road in Brookhaven.

It dates back to 1933 when the first black family moved into the Cates Estate, later renamed Lynwood Park, after Realtor Mel Lynn.

Shaw’s parents, Peter and Frankie Scott, moved to Lynwood Park in 1954 and raised 15 children there. In the late 1950s, they had eight children at Lynwood Park High and Elementary School. They lived on Osborne Road, one of 10 streets in the community. Shaw, who used to walk to the black school, had to ride a school bus to the all-white Cross Keys High that was five miles away.

She said the white bus driver clearly did not want to drive them.

“He drove that bus much too fast,” she recalled.

Shaw remembers the threats from some of the white students, the treatment of prejudiced teachers, and the fights that broke out daily. She remembers vividly the day her father had to come and pick her up from school after a group of white male students threatened her and the other black students with violence. He ended up escorting her to school for weeks until things settled down.

Now Shaw feels honored that someone is recognizing what they went through.

“It took all of these years for someone to recognize that technically we weren’t treated right,” she said on Jan. 12.

By the time she graduated in 1970, Shaw said things had settled down to where black students were able to play on the basketball and football teams and be part of the band, chorus and 4-H Club.

“We even had cheerleaders and people on the drill team,” she said. “It wound up being an OK school.”

Still after she left Cross Keys, those early memories kept her from visiting the school for any reason until just two years ago.

During the Jan. 18 MLK Day Dinner, the city of Brookhaven will present a proclamation to Lynwood Integrators and it will facilitate a discussion about their experiences. Students who left the Lynwood Park schools in 1968 and 1969 for the white schools also are expected. DeKalb Schools shuttered the Lynwood Park schools in 1969.