The Turner Family
An interview with two Black students who transferred to an all-white school in 1959
On a damp gray morning at 8:15 a.m. on February 10, 1959, three African American children who had previously been bussed across town each morning to attend all-black Lyles-Crouch walked into the all-white William Ramsay School. Their actions were the start of a long slow process to desegregate Alexandria City Public Schools that took another 14 years to complete.
Those African American children almost immediately disappeared into the school system and only a handful of the nine students have spoken about their experiences that day. Kathryn Turner was 12 at the time. Her sister Sandra was in second grade when, along with their brother Gerald, they were reluctantly permitted by the superintendent and School Board to take classes at William Ramsay School.
The following are Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) interviews with Kathryn Turner and Sandra Turner-Bond.
You were one of the nine children who transferred from the all-black Lyles-Crouch School to the all-white William Ramsay School on February 10, 1959. What Do you remember about the events of that day?
I have few recollections of any of this. Back in the '50s, the way parents raised children, it was not a participatory experience for the child. Today I’m a little amazed at the way parents and children interact. We didn’t have that latitude. We were never told this is what you are going to do. I don't remember conversations about the fact we were going to do something different or scary. I just recall going to a different school.