54 Years Later: A High School Diploma

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This month and next, young people all over the country will be trading in their high school textbooks for caps and gowns.

But in the case of Olivia Ferguson McQueen, the trade won’t be happening over night; it will be happening after a gap of more than fifty years.

McQueen should have graduated in 1959. But - rather than complete her senior year with her classmates at her all-black high school in Charlottesville, Virginia - she was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to desegregate the city’s schools.

A judge ruled in her favor, but the Governor fought the ruling, and McQueen, as a result, found herself trapped in a limbo: not able to attend an all-white school, and not willing to go back to her all-black school either.

And so, she completed high school with tutors and in the end, received a makeshift certificate typed on plain paper, rather than a formal diploma.

This past weekend, however, McQueen finally received a proper diploma from the Charlottesville City Schools, handed to her by the superintendent herself.

Guests:

Olivia Ferguson McQueen

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.