The 85 students who integrated Oak Ridge schools in 1955 are being honored in events this week.
The “Rooted in the Community” reunion events have been organized by the Scarboro Community Alumni Association. They are scheduled from Thursday, September 2, to Sunday, September 5.
“The event honors those Scarboro-Oak Ridge TN 85 students who integrated the schools as well as the Scarboro teachers,” said John Spratling in a recent interview. Spratling is the vice president of the organization and the Scarboro endowment fund established to honor the teachers and students by supporting enrichment programs such as ACT Prep Testing, leadership training, scholarships, and youth community service projects, a press release said.
“In 1955, 85 courageous young African American students from the Scarboro community were asked to be the first to enter all-white Robertsville junior and Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee,” the press release said. “The reunion honors those 85 students and the Scarboro School teachers that provided inspiration and tools to prepare them for this new journey.”
Spratling said the event theme shows that the Oak Ridge community is one of the early champions of “acknowledging our roots that pave opportunities today.”
Thursday evening, Archie Lee was the keynote speaker at the Scholarship Awards Banquet at the Scarboro Community Center, where 2020 scholarship recipients and the Scarboro, Oak Ridge TN 85 were recognized. Lee was the first African American student inducted into the Oak Ridge High School National Honor Society, and he worked at Oak Ridge Research Institute, now Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the press release said.
“I always had engineering on my mind since the fourth grade,” Lee said in a recent interview. He worked as an intern at Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Science, and he worked as a technician for Oak Ridge Technical Enterprise Corporation (CORTEC), the press release said. In 1963, he accepted a position at Solid State Radiation Corporation in California, where in 1963, he developed nuclear radiation detectors. Later, he was hired at a research company called Korad Corporation, where he worked in the semi-conductor department developing lasers in GaAs (gallium arsenide). He was scheduled to share his extensive research Thursday and compel the community and especially students to reach new goals and new horizons by believing in themselves, the press release said. Archie’s first-hand witnessing of civil rights issues past and present are timely not only during the 65th year anniversary observance of integration, but they compel us to unite as friends and neighbors, the release said.
The 2021 scholarship recipients were selected for their essay submissions on “Why the Scarboro, Oak Ridge TN 85 Should Be Honored,” as well as contributions to the community and their plans to further their educational endeavors, and Maya Lewis, Bridgett Slater, Faythe Summers, and Jaylen Heyward were also recognized. $1,000 scholarships were presented at a recent ceremony, the press release said.
Here are the community events honoring the Scarboro Oak Ridge-TN 85:
- Thursday, September 2, at 6 p.m., Scholarship Awards Banquet, honoring the Scarboro-Oak Ridge TN 85 at the Scarboro Community Center, 148 Carver Avenue, Oak Ridge, with speaker Archie Lee, first African American Oak Ridge High School National Honor Society member.
- Friday, September 3, at 9:45 a.m. in the West Gallery of the Oak Ridge History Museum, 102 Robertsville Road, Oak Ridge, final exhibition honoring the 65th Anniversary of the Oak Ridge 85. The exhibition’s theme will be: “Black and White Communities Working Together to Help America.”
- Friday, September 3, at 7 p.m. Clinton versus Oak Ridge High School football game. Halftime acknowledgment during the game to honor the Scarboro-Oak Ridge 85 and the Clinton 12. Location: Clinton High School Stadium, 120 Gilliam Street, Clinton.
- Saturday, September 4, 9 a.m., Unity Parade with Oak Ridge and area bands, organizations, city and county government, and schools. Lineup at 8:30 a.m. Parade begins at 9 a.m. from Grey Strang Baseball Field on Wilberforce Avenue. The parade starts at Benedict and ends at Carver Avenue. Featured Bands will be Pearl Cohn High School, Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin East High School Band and soccer team, Knoxville.
- Saturday, September 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fun Day Festival Event, Scarboro Community Center, 148 Carver Avenue, Oak Ridge. Food and other apparel vendors, fun activities for youth, band challenges, gospel hour, Old School hour, school supplies, and giveaways for youth and more.
- Saturday, September 4, 8 p.m. Black and Gold Ball, YWCA, 1660 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge. Classy event with red carpet treatment to honor the Scarboro, Oak Ridge TN 85. Food, music, and door prizes.
- Sunday September 5, 2021–The Scarboro, Oak Ridge TN 85 with worship and share experiences at various churches in the Scarboro Community.
Admittance to all events is through completing a registration weekend pass in the amount of $70 and mailing to SCAA P.O. Box 147, 1143 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Suite 107-A, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, or contacting any SCAA Executive Member. Make money orders or cashier’s check payable to SCAA. Cost for the activities does not include the Friday, September 3 7 p.m. football game.
For more information, contact Rose Weaver, SCAA secretary at (865) 924-2987.
Lodging is available at discounts prices at Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge, and Doubletree Hotel.
The Oak Ridge 85, along with the Clinton 12, were also honored by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee at the Scarboro Community Center on Tuesday afternoon.
The Scarboro Community Alumni Association was formed in the fall of 2011. Their objective is to revitalize the community, instill community pride, and serve as mentor to the youth in the neighborhood. The Alumni Association is made up of current and former neighborhood residents who have a desire to make an impact within the community while assisting children in the neighborhood to reach their full potential. The Scarboro Community Alumni Association (SCAA) scholarship serves as a way of seeding into the youth of the Scarboro community, the press release said. The president is Tina Henderson-Porter. Other Executive Committee Members include Deborah Booker, John Spratling, Kwayu Graham, and Rose Weaver
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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