Civil Rights Era

After Korea, the African American community started to pressure for the end of segregation and the protection of their rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. Some followed the ideas of civil disobedience preached by Martin Luther King Jr., while others resorted to a more violent and radical approach by the end of the 1960’s. The movement achieved success with the Supreme Court 1954 decision Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas which overturned the concept of legal segregation. This would lead to integration, especially in the school systems. This success was followed by the Civil Rights Act passed under the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. In Valdosta, the end of segregation came gradually with little heated conflict.

End of Segregated Education

The public education system of Lowndes County was segregated as it was in the rest of the South. While Valdosta High School was reserved for whites, black students attended Magnolia St. School, Dasher High, South St. School, and Pinevale High among others. It was not until 1969 that Valdosta schools were integrated. Colleges were also not integrated in the South. 1963 saw the first black students attend Valdosta State College (now Valdosta State University). Robert Pierce and Drewnell Thomas were those first black students at V.S.C. Pierce and Thomas were honor graduates of Valdosta’s Pinevale High School. They saw limited hostility toward them. Pierce said that many white students viewed him more as a curiosity, being the first black student they had ever attended classes with.