Richland One's first African-American students honored - WNEM TV 5

Richland One's first African-American students honored

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

They were considered to be young pioneers back then on Aug. 24, 1964. Twenty-four African-American students entered the schools of the old Columbia Public School System, ushering in desegregation in just the ninth school district in South Carolina at the time.

On Aug. 11, 2014 -- almost 50 years later -- those students were honored by the Richland One School District at the Colonial Life Arena as part of the beginning of the new school year.

Interim Superintendent Cynthia Cash-Greene said she was happy everyone was able to come together so the staff can be reminded they are all in this school year together.

"One mission, one vision, one common purpose," said Cash-Greene, "and so it's good to bring folks together periodically so they can actually reunite, re-energize and just be prepared for our children as they return to school."

Chandra Cleveland-Jennings says her sisters remember the desegregation process.

"Everybody was looking at us, the news was out there, and people were taking pictures," said Cleveland-Jennings. "They remember the media hype that went behind the whole desegregation."

The Columbia Public School System, as Richland One was known as back then, welcomed 22 those students at Rosewood Elementary, Dreher High School, Hand Junior High, Withers Elementary, Wardlaw Junior High, and Columbia High School. In the group, there were nine girls and 13 boys.

Over 4,000 Richland One staff and faculty showed up for the convocation.

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