Alexander, Corker Introduce Legislation to Honor Tennessee Civil Rights Pioneers

Bill Would Initiate Process to Make Green McAdoo School Part of National Park System

Posted on October 19, 2007

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) today introduced legislation to begin the process of making the Green McAdoo School in Clinton, TN – the first desegregated public high school in the South – part of the National Park System. “The Clinton 12 bravely stood up and became the first public high school students to enter a desegregated school in the South, and we need to honor the important place they hold in our nation’s history,” Alexander said. “This bill helps preserve their story and teach generations to come about people and events – like the Civil Rights movement – that remind us America is a work in progress.” “The story of the Clinton 12 is about progress, bravery, and the power of a small group of committed citizens who took courageous steps to make their community and this country stronger," said Corker. "I'm proud to join Sens. Alexander and Salazar in this effort so future generations can learn about the Clinton 12 and their contribution to ending segregation in America. I also want to thank the local officials, community leaders and countless others who have worked diligently to ensure that these pioneers are honored and that an important part of our history is preserved." The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO). The Green McAdoo National Historic Site Study Act of 2007 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the feasibility of designating the Green McAdoo School as a unit of the National Park System. Upon receiving the designation, the site would become part of the 391-unit National Park System and receive federal funding for operational costs. It also would earn national recognition as part of the Park System’s mission to preserve and protect the natural and cultural history of America. The school in Clinton, Tennessee, highlights the history of the formerly segregated all-black Green McAdoo School and all-white Clinton High Schools. Both played a vital role in the school desegregation crisis that preceded and followed the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. On Aug. 27, 1956, 12 students from the Green McAdoo School, later dubbed the “Clinton 12,” met at the school before walking together to the all-white Clinton High School to become the first African-American students to integrate a southern, state-operated school. During the 50th Anniversary of their walk in 2006, Senator Alexander and former Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) secured $750,000 for the City of Clinton to jump-start renovations to transform the school into a cultural museum as part of the Fiscal Year 2006 Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, and Housing & Urban Development Appropriations Bill. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN-03) and John Lewis (D-GA). Salazar and Corker serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Park Service. Alexander is a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over National Parks funding.