Mansfield ISD Celebrates 50 Years of Racially Integrated Schools

The Mansfield Independent School District celebrated an anniversary Sunday. Fifty years ago, both black and white students in the city of Mansfield went to school together for the first time.

At the time, the idea of change was not welcome in the small town, but today a graduate of the first integrated class, Brenda Norwood, is able to look at Mansfield High School with pride.

"We accomplished a lot. So I'm thankful for that. I really am," said Norwood.

What Norwood saw when the doors of Mansfield High School were first opened to black students was very different than today. Black students were met by racist crowds when they first tried to enter the school 50 years ago.

"It was not a very pleasant moment, not for any of us. We had to come down to Mansfield where you weren't wanted."

The U.S. Supreme Court ended legal segregation in 1954 but Mansfield ISD did not comply with the law until the fall of 1965. Norwood said that even a decade after the law was passed, she and other students were still met with hostility.

"You learn to deal with it and you live. And you don't let it get to a point where you go, 'I can't do this anymore.' No, you don't even say that,” said Norwood.

By the time that she graduated Norwood said that things inside the high school were better. She said that she had white friends and was involved in the school choir.

"Everything just kind of came together. When you're young like that you don't think so much of all the other things out there. So what you're looking for is to try to get along and that's what we did."

Not long after she graduated Norwood became Mansfield ISD's first black employee. She is now retired from teaching full-time, but continues to work for the district as a substitute.

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