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New This Week

June 20, 2023

EVENT: Learn About Albert Joyner, Old Fort's Civil Rights Pioneer

learn the story of Albert Joyner, an Old Fort Resident who protested for civil rights and equal education in the 20th century.

Today, we pay tribute to the brave individuals who fought for civil rights in Old Fort. Four years before the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, the black community in Old Fort opened an all-black elementary school. Black citizens mortgaged their homes to buy land, helped grade & landscape the grounds, built washrooms, and took pride in equipping the new auditorium. The Catawba View Grammar School stood as a testament to the unwavering dedication of its black citizens.

In 1950, despite petitions, protests, and heartfelt pleas, the school was unjustly shut down and was demolished two years later. After the Catawba View School was destroyed, black parents in Old Fort began to submit petitions to the McDowell County Board of Education for their children to be allowed to attend the all-white Old Fort Elementary but were unsuccessful.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown V. Board of Education, Albert Joyner, a nursing assistant and WWII veteran, with no children of his own, stepped forward in protest. Without hesitation, he led a group of black children through a hostile crowd, determined to enroll them in the local school. He was told, “the school board had not authorized integration”. Despite the outcome, Albert's courageous act of defiance became an emblem of hope, challenging the oppressive norms of the time.

Though met with resistance and violence, Albert Joyner's spirit remained unbroken. He continued to fight for justice, facing threats and intimidation throughout the legal battle for school integration in Old Fort. His unwavering dedication paved the way for progress. Today, as we celebrate Juneteenth, we recognize the enduring legacy of Albert Joyner and the Old Fort community. Their unwavering pursuit of equality inspires us to foster inclusivity and strive for a better future. Their actions remind us of the ongoing struggle for equality and the importance of education as a pathway to liberation.

Join The 150 Project in honoring his legacy at their monthly historic talk on Thursday, June 22nd at 6pm.

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