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Posted: February 13, 2009 11:59 p.m.

Cousins High Students March

Protest Integration ‘7-5 Plan’

Editor's note: This article was published in the March 5, 1970 edition of The Covington News.

Negro students from R. L. Cousins High School Marched from their school into Covington, around the square several times and on to the office of the Board of Education Friday morning in protest of the "7-5 Integration Plan" adopted by the Board and the proposed changing of the name of their school. The students, some 500 strong, were led by some members of the local youth branch of the S.C.L.C., who were not members of the Cousins student body. They marched carrying signs indicating their protest points, and sang "freedom songs' en-route to their destination.

Upon arriving at the Board of Education Building the students crowded inside to seek an audience with the superintendent Whitlow Richardson. Mr. Richardson told the group that he would meet with the president of their student body, but that he would not hold a conference with the entire group and he asked them to return to school.

The student body president did not remain for the conference with the superintendent, but left with the other students. Someone in the crowd left with Mr. Richardson a sheet of paper that outlined what kind of school plan and system they wanted in 1971.

The seven point outline reads as follows: (1) Want a 7-2-3 plan (this would mean seven years of elementary school; two years of a junior high school; and three years of high school); (2) Want equal right concerning the one administration (this would be the administration of the proposed junior high at the R.L. Cousins facility where they want a Negro principal to remain in charge); (3) Want the name of R. L. Cousins School to remain as it is rather than become a part of Newton County High School; (4) Want our teachers to be placed in a school where they will have the same rights as the white teachers (this is mandatory under the federal court order anyway); (5) Want a more definite plan of desegregation (no suggested plan or details given); (6) It's time we get what we need and that the same right and authority as the whites (meaning of this request no clear); (7) don't want one administration, especially a white man; we want both a white and black man (this point is in accordance with the Board's plans of having a black and white principal, with designated assignment of duties, at both high school campuses with an overall supervising superintendent over the four principals on the two campuses).

Board Meeting

Tuesday morning the Newton County Board of education met with a delegation from the R. L. Cousins Student Body for about an hour and one-half to explain the proposed "7-5 Plan" and answer any questions that they might have about the plan.

Before leaving the delegation demanded that the Board of Education answer their list of demands, left with the School Superintendent when they marched on the Board of Education last Friday before school was out Tuesday.

The Board adjourned for lunch and then met again until 3 p.m. when they answered the student delegation's demand in the following manner. A memo was addressed to the President, R.L. Cousins Student Body from J. W. Richardson, County School superintendent:

After much discussion the Newton County Board of Education decided to let the name of R. L. Cousins still be used as one part of the Newton County School System. The following motion was made and unanimously passed by the Newton county Board of Education.

The motion was to continue with the 7-5 plan as previously adopted by the Board and designate the R. L. Cousins High and Elementary facilities as the R. L. Cousins division of the Newton County High School System. I believe this will answer most of the complaints your delegates brought before the Board this morning.

Another complaint on your list on the paper you left for me a few days ago stated, "and we want our teachers to be placed in a school where they will have the same rights as the whites." I would like to state hear that they have in the past had the same rights and in the future will continue to have the same rights as the white teachers.

You also asked the following, "Its time we got what we need and had the same rights and authorities as the whites." If I understand what you're asking for, I will assure you all teachers and students and principals will be given the same rights and dealt with as individuals rather than white and black.

You also ask for the following, "we don't want one administration, especially a white man, we want both a white and black man." I think I explained to you this morning that a black principal and a white principal would be at each school site and that we would have one supervising Principal over the entire Newton County High School, 8-12.

I would also like to assure you that this change in our school system will not cause any discrimination against students in athletics, band and other school activities."

Wednesday

Mayor W. L. "bill" Dobbs of Covington, keeping a promise, made last Friday when the R. L. Cousins students marched on the Board of Education building, to meet with the students and discuss the "7-5 Plan" if they would leave the building and return to school, met with the Cousins student body Wednesday morning.

"The students were quiet, orderly, and as respectful to me as they asked questions as any group I've ever met with," the Mayor said, "and I think that I was able to clear up most of the questions in the minds of a majority of the students."

A march had been promised for Wednesday if the students were not satisfied with the answers to their demands given Tuesday afternoon by the school board. Local and state law enforcement officials were on hand in case the "threatened trouble" developed.

About 23:30 Wednesday afternoon an orderly march by the students was made again on the Board of Education building and a delegation of student representatives was admitted to discuss the situation with Superintendent Richardson.

Wednesday's demands from the students were: (1) We want to make it clear to the Board that we want our current black principal to remain "in writing." (2) We want our streets widen and resurface, "now" before September (this is a city matter and the streets leading to Cousins School are on the spring paving schedule); (3) We want more janitors to help keep our school clean; (4) we want to make it clear that Cousins High School would not be a division of Newton County High School, "but remain as R. L. Cousins School".

The Board rules Tuesday afternoon that the name would be "R.L. Cousins Division of the Newton County High School system."

Leaders of the demonstration promised that there would be another demonstration Thursday and "every day thereafter until our demands are met."

After the student leaders met with Mr. Richardson the students were led in an orderly march back to Cousins School.


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