Bravery In The Face Of Bigotry

It took almost half a century, but Josephine Boyd Bradley finally got the recognition she deserves: a hero's welcome and a portrait that will hang here in her old high school.

"I was speechless," she says, " 'cause I thought it was something I would never in my lifetime ever see."

On Sept. 4, 1957, Bradley became the first black student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, N.C. It was the same week the Arkansas National Guard blocked nine Little Rock kids from entering a high school there. The difference — Bradley did it alone. And Bradley got through, reports CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman.

Bradley says protesters were lined up on either side of her as she entered the school, yelling racial slurs in her direction.

Asked how long that walk felt, Bradley says bluntly, "Forever."

But Bradley says the first few days at the cafeteria were the absolute worst. She sat at a table all by herself. Some kids would spit in her food, or dump ketchup in her lap. It got so bad that a lot of times she'd actually have to go home and change.

Until one day, when a very brave white girl decided to make a friend.

Her name is Julia Adams, and you can see the impact she had. "I felt elated that somebody acknowledged that I did really exist at this place," Bradley says of Adams.

What Adams did was quite simple, really. She and a friend named Ginger Parker decided to make a stand — by sitting with Bradley.

"We sat near the door and there was a reason for that," Adams says. "To get out?" Adams is asked. "Yes."

"I just wish that dozens had joined us. And they could have. And they should have," Adams says.

In the 48 years since, Grimsley has become fully integrated. Of course, kids still tend to cluster by color.

And prejudice still hurts, but Grimsley today is another planet compared to what it used to be — all thanks to the one little girl who made history and one who made peace.

Hartman asks the pair, "How do we make the whole world like you two."

Bradley shoots back, "Clone us."

If we could, we would.
  • Sean Alfano

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