July 1, 2015 Edition

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Hoxie 21 celebration subject
of quarterly meeting


Fayth Hill Washington (from left), a member of the Hoxie 21 and CEO of the Hill Foundation, visits with Jim Green and Lida Tinker at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce quarterly meeting on Thursday.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

Gretchen Hunt
Editor

Fayth Hill Washington, CEO of the Hill Foundation, spoke at Thursday's Chamber of Commerce quarterly meeting and expressed her excitement to have increased opportunities to share the story of the successful integration of Hoxie School.

Washington, who was one of the original students to integrate the school, said her family went through trials during the time, but the events also prepared her for life.

"I was in the fourth grade," she said. "I had no idea then, but Hoxie prepared me for two great careers."

After she retired from IBM and FedEx, she said she was looking forward to doing some crocheting, but her mother had different ideas.

"My mom told me, we need to get this story out," Washington said. "Since 2003, we have been constantly doing something to try to get the story heard."

Planning for a celebration of the anniversary of the integration has led to renewed local efforts to record the history and potentially rebuild the Hoxie Colored School to be used as an educational facility and museum.

"We want to tell the whole story," Washington said. "There are many facets to the story, and the story is so rich with untold heroes. The story is powerful."

Celebration
planned

A 60th anniversary celebration has been scheduled for July 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mustang Gymnasium. During the event, individuals will have an opportunity to tell how their life was impacted by the integration.

"One of our major goals is to get the story told," Fran Cavenaugh, chair of the Chamber Board, said. "It is imperative that we hear those stories."

She said the Chamber is happy to be a part of the effort, not only because it is a story that needs to be told, but also because it can lead to economic development for the area. If plans to rebuild the Hoxie Colored School are successful, it is expected that tour groups, as well as teachers and students, would visit the site.

Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker agreed, stating that the upcoming celebration is the perfect time to kickoff a reinvigorated effort to be sure the story is told.

"The outcome of that story is very positive," he said. "We need to let our history reflect that significance."

Hoxie Supt. Radius Baker reflected on what it would have been like to have been superintendent in 1955.

"The Hoxie School Board and superintendent didn't wake up and say let's do something to split the community or start a controversy," Baker said. "They did something because they felt it was right."

He shared about the Apostle Paul's writings to individuals, churches and communities to empower them to be steadfast in times of trial.

"It was a trying time," Baker said of the events of 1955 in Hoxie. "There are times when it is easier to rethink your position and take the easy road. Paul didn't do that and the people at Hoxie didn't do that!"

He emphasized that Hoxie was not mandated to integrate but did it voluntarily. Even when faced with resistance, much of which was from outside agitators, they held firm.

"I'm proud to say that Hoxie did not allow something to not happen that needed to happen," he said. "It was a brave and honest thing to do."

Fundraising
underway

Fundraising has begun to rebuild the school, and nearly $4,000 has been raised through a gofundme site.

During the meeting, Washington accepted $2,500 in grant funds from Walmart. One of the grants, valued at $1,000, was applied for by Hoxie School, and the other $1,500 was a community grant awarded by Walmart.

She encouraged those present to find Hoxie 21 on Facebook and share information about the story and how to support the effort.

"I've been all over telling this story," Washington said. "They all ask why is it we know about the Little Rock 9 and nobody has heard about Hoxie."

She said the truth is that bad news travels fast, and good news travels slow.

"We didn't have to call in the Army and the reserves," she said. "In fact, they could have learned many lessons from Hoxie."

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