The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

UTC events remember historic Brown decision

When Lyda Y. McKeldin was a junior in high school, her parents had to make the difficult decision to send her to Louisville, Kentucky, to continue her education. The septuagenarian says at that time schools were segregated, and there were no schools she could attend near her happy home, filled with eleven brothers and sisters.

“My parents sent me to live with my married sister, and I attended Central High School. I loved the school, and did quite well there, but I was so homesick for the rest of my family, I did not return the next year,” McKeldin said.

Instead, she moved to Alcoa, Tennessee, where she stayed with a preacher and his wife. She graduated from Hall High School in Alcoa, a school she described as not as challenging academically, but better for her because it was closer to home.

McKeldin will participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday, May 19, from 1-3 p.m. in the Raccoon Mountain Room of the UTC University Center. The discussion is one in a series of events commemorating 50 years since Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The Supreme Court decision ruled unanimously that the ‘separate but equal’ clause was unconstitutional because it violated the children’s rights by separating them solely on the basis of race.

Dr. Joyce Hardaway, Director of Secondary Personnel, Hamilton County Department of Education, will also participate in the panel discussion. She also came from Harriman, however her educational experience was markedly different. “By the time Joyce came through high school, students were being bused. She had to get up early in the morning to attend school, but she did not have to move from her home to finish her education,” McKeldin said.

McKeldin went on to earn an associates degree from Morristown Junior College, a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University and a master’s degree from Stanford University. Earlier this year, McKeldin was recognized with the Legacy Award at UTC. She was the first African-American to teach classrooms of all races in Chattanooga, introducing many children to a leader in the area’s civil rights movement. She has received many awards from local agencies, including being named as one of 50 women who have contributed the most to Chattanooga.

Events scheduled for the UTC celebration of Brown v. Board of Education include:

  • Tuesday, May 18 the film Separate but Equal starring Sidney Poitier will be shown in the Signal Mountain Room of the UTC University Center. Refreshments will be provided by the UTC College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies. Showings will be at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 19 the panel discussion of personal experiences will be held from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, with Dr. Gene Bartoo, UTC Routt Professor moderating in the Raccoon Mountain Room of the UTC University Center. Refreshments will be provided by The Links, Inc. Participants include:
    • Peter Cooper, director of the Community Foundation
    • Dr. Joyce Hardaway, director of Secondary Personnel, Hamilton County Department of Education
    • James Mapp, former Chattanooga Chapter NAACP president
    • Reverend Paul A. McDaniel, Second Missionary Baptist Church
    • Lyda McKeldin, retired educator, representative from The Links, Inc.
    • Booker Scruggs, UTC Upward Bound
    • Dr. Mary Tanner, dean, UTC College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies
  • Thursday, May 20 from 11:30 a.m.- 12:50 p.m., there will be a gathering at the UTC Student Park, across from the Lupton Library (in case of rain, on the portico of the library). Felicia McGhee-Hilt, faculty member in the UTC communication department and reporter for NewsChannel 9 will emcee the event. The poet Tony Black will be featured. Refreshments will be provided by UTC Student Development Office.

The celebration planning committee includes these UTC representatives: Dr. Janetta Bradley, UTC Teacher Preparation Academy; Jennifer Driver, Project Director, English as a Second Language Institute; Dr. Sharon Hill, UTC political science; Chrystal Partridge, Graduate Studies; Naomi Sutherland, UTC Lupton Library faculty; and Dr. Barbara Wofford, Education; UTC director of Affirmative Action. For more information, please contact Dr. Janetta Bradley.