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Stedman Elementary is one of Denver’s most integrated schools. About a third of its students are Black, a third are Hispanic and a third are white.

“That happened by accident,” Principal Michael Atkins said, “but we are keeping it by design.”

In the 1960s, Stedman wasn’t integrated at all — and it was no accident. In 1968, 92% of Stedman students were Black and the school was overcrowded. Rather than reassign some Stedman students to mostly white schools nearby, the district brought in trailers.

The segregation at Stedman and at other Denver schools spurred a group of families, led by Wilfred Keyes, a Black father and chiropractor, to sue Denver Public Schools in 1969.

The Keyes case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the first desegregation case in a major city outside of the South to do so. This year marks 50 years since the high court ordered Denver to desegregate its public schools “root and branch.”

The 1973 ruling made history, even outside Denver. Keyes was what the Supreme Court called a “tri-ethnic case” and was the first to give Hispanic students the same rights to desegregated schools that the Brown v. Board of Education case extended to Black students 19 years earlier.

— Full story via Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado

A once-segregated Denver school fights to stay integrated 50 years after historic court order

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