The African American Students for Integration at Smithfield-Selma High were honored at a recent Johnston County Board of Education meeting.
These former students, also known as the Freedom of Choice Trailblazers, were African American students who attended Smithfield Elementary School during the Freedom of Choice period before the mandatory integration of schools in 1969-1970.
Johnston County Board of Education Vice-Chair Dorothy Johnson and Special Assistant to the Superintendent Carolyn Ennis gave a special Black History Month presentation at the February meeting to honor the these trailblazers who chose to attend a white school.
Those who were honored at the meeting include Dr. Alton Anderson, Rose Marie Bryant Byrd, Donald Liles, Phyllis Palmer, Horace Sanders, Nathaniel Sanders, Jr., Vandalyn Sanders Bradley, Carvin Stevens, Denise Willie Seabrooks, Berneatha Hinton Morrison, Oscar Sanders, and Valerie Williams.
Trailblazers who were unable to attend but who were also honored include Lindal Altman, Donnell Bell, Evelyn Carter, Evelyn Cotton, Roderick Ennis, Lena H. Hunter, Vernon King, Patricia Ann Lee, Kenneth Matthews, Rhonda McLean, Herman Palmer, Linda Simpson, Jacqueline Stevens, Kenneth Stevens, and Robert Atlas Williams. Those who were honored posthumously included Felix Allen and Matthew Brown.
Each guest was recognized for their courage in helping to integrate schools in Johnston County. They spoke on the school they attended during the Freedom of Choice period, and their life accomplishments.
Dr. Alton and Rose Marie Bryant Byrd, the first African American male and female students who graduated from Smithfield High, presented Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow and Johnston County Board of Education Chairman Mike Wooten with a special thank you certificate on behalf of the Freedom of Choice Trailblazers for the recognition.