Eloise Calloway points to a photo of herself in the 1968 Cross Keys High School yearbook. Calloway was one of the first students to integrate DeKalb County schools. (Photos by Dyana Bagby)

Eugenia Calloway flipped through the pages of the 1968 Cross Keys High School yearbook, glancing over the photographs of many white faces. But in the back of the yearbook she found first the boys’ basketball team and then the girls’ basketball team.

“There I am,” she said, pointing to the smiling girl on the far right of the team photo. One other black girl was on the far left; all the players and the coaches in between were white.

“That’s when I had the most fun, when I was playing basketball,” she said.

Calloway was one of 17 students who integrated Cross Keys High School nearly 50 years ago, part of that first group of black students to attend an all-white school in DeKalb County and now known as the “Lynwood Integrators.”

Eloise Calloway is sitting on the far right of this team photo of the Cross Keys High School varsity team.

“It was interesting,” Calloway said of attending Cross Keys High School as one of only a handful of black students. “Difficult and interesting.”

On Jan. 18, at Lynwood Park Community Center, the city of Brookhaven honored Calloway and the other Lynwood Integrators during a dinner and ceremony to also commemorate its first Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.

Lynwood Park Community Center was once the elementary and high school in Brookhaven’s historic African-American community. Some students also integrated Chamblee High School.

Councilmember Linley Jones organized the event along with many Lynwood Park residents. She explained that it wasn’t until 1968 — 14 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that public schools were to be desegregated — that DeKalb schools became integrated.

Much of the evening was given to the integrators to talk about their experiences of having to leave the “safe haven” of their community’s Lynwood school to ride buses to the formerly all-white schools.

“It was a very difficult transition,” said Janice Anderson. “Teachers were frightened of us. We were treated practically as foreigners. We were smart at our school and all of a sudden we were dumb. But we rose to the occasion and we had to support each other.”

Margaret Sawyer said she remembered being spit on when attending Cross Keys High School. “One of my teachers said she was not going to teach these niggers. I remember telling my parents, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ And it was there I found out I really was a colored girl,” she recalled.

Gary McDaniel remembered the first day he and the 16 other students pulled up to Cross Keys High School on the bus.

“There were 500 people waiting, looking at you dead in the eye. When we got to school that first day … I didn’t get scared. I had butterflies, but I couldn’t get scared because I had to protect,” he said.

Kathy Wells, left, and Eldredge Jackson, also Lynwood Integrators, sing the Lynwood Park High School Class song.

The evening ended with Mayor John Ernst reading a proclamation to pay a tribute to the students for their “courage and contribution” to the city’s Civil Rights movement and the crowd singing the Lynwood Park High School’s alma mater. WSB TV newsman Mark Winne served as moderator and host.

The proclamation from the city of Brookhaven reads:

Historical Lynwood Park was once home to segregated, all-black public schools known as Lynwood Park Elementary School and Lynwood Park High School; and

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court found racial segregation of public schools to be illegal and unconstitutional in the case of Brown v. Board of Education Topeka; and

In 1955 the United States Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. Board of Education Topeka ordered all segregated public schools like Lynwood Park Elementary School and Lynwood Park High School to be desegregated, and

In many instances the all-black public schools were not integrated but, instead, the students were removed from their schools and placed in all-white public schools; and

In 1968, a small group of black students from the Lynwood Park schools bravely integrated the DeKalb County school system, leaving Lynwood Park schools and entering previously all-white DeKalb County schools; and

These individuals, known as the “Lynwood Integrators,” were participants in one of the most important civil rights advancements in our nation’s history, the integration of American public schools; and

The Lynwood Integrators withstood hardship, discrimination and all challenges attendant to their historic action; and

The Lynwood Schools were subsequently shut down and converted to the Lynwood Community Center, serving the residents of Lynwood and Brookhaven to this day; and

The city of Brookhaven wishes to honor the courage and contribution of the Lynwood Integrators.

7 replies on “Brookhaven honors ‘Lynwood Integrators’ during MLK Day event”

  1. In the third photo, that’s actually Kathy Wells, not Janice Anderson. Ms. Wells is a CK graduate, highly respected DeKalb educator who was principal at two Brookhaven schools; Montgomery and Montclair.

  2. Lynwood Integrators
    I was so proud to be in attendance for this great evening.
    I’m thankful for their courageous attitude. It’s because of their courage that I soon followed in attending Cross Keys 73-77.I never realize what my oldest sister Lavonne Sawyer Stone went thru and the others. I’m thankful that Brookhaven officials finally recognized the true warriors of the Lynwood Park.
    Pastor Donald Sawyer

  3. MY NAME IS STEVE COOK, I AM ONE OF THE KIDS THAT WENT TO CROSSKEYS HIGH, I AM SO SORRY THAT I MISS THE MEETING. I WILL SAY IN 1968 AT CROSSKEYS HIGH WAS UNREAL FOR A CHILD OF COLOR TO BE THERE. I NEVER WENT TO VIETNAM, BUT THE SCARS OF 1968 AT CROSSKEYS, WAS AS BAD FOR A CHILD TO GO THREW,COULD BE AS BAD FOR A ADULT TO GO TO WAR FOR FIVE YEARS. IT REALLY TAUGHT ME TO CARE ABOUT OTHERS THAN MYSELF. I WOULD NOT DO THAT TO NO CHILD. STEVE COOK

  4. We must not forget that in the early 70s,it was also a Kindergarten where I attended and my teacher was white and the nicest person I knew at the school. Since I lived next to the school, I was always the last to leave, riding little trucks up and down the hallways. My memory is very vivid of that time.

  5. My name is Brenda Boyd I was honored to attend the ceremony I was a student at the Lynwood park school. The best part about lynwood park was everyone knew each other and we make it work but I can say today there has been a change in the community now you don’t know tge neighbor’s and don’t speak to you and you know nothing about the people.

  6. My name is Jean Carter Bray I was not able to make that event and I hate I miss it because My sister Patricia and Marshall Carter was in the class 67 that refused to leave the Lynwood Park High School to attend the all white Cross keys High,so the truth to be told there were other students that didn’t leave and they were the last graduates to leave before the school was shut down.I honor that class for their bravery in honor of MLK Day . We lived right close to the school and I remember the kkk coming into our community burning crosses at the school and some of the men would try and catch them!

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