“They Led the Way” Exhibit

“They Led the Way” Exhibit

They Led the Way is a riveting exhibit detailing the intimate portraits and oral histories of the first 8 students to integrate the Leon County public school system. This exhibit is presented in partnership with Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.The exhibit, “They Led the Way,” was created by Ann Beasley Schierhorn, a professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University who attended Leon High and graduated from Florida High School in 1968. It features the photography of David LaBelle, nationally known photojournalist who also teaches at Kent State.In September 1963, eight African American students walked through the doors of formerly all-white Leon County public schools in Tallahassee for the first time. It marked the official end of segregated schools 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.The students at Leon High School were taunted with racist remarks by classmates who wanted to provoke a fight. They were lonely because most of their other classmates were silent. They faced anger from some of their friends who questioned their decision to transfer from black schools. The lone elementary school student was more easily accepted by first-grade classmates.The students and their parents wanted the best education they could get to open more doors for college, and they wanted to advance the cause of civil rights. This exhibit recognizes these students’ perseverance and that of their contemporaries who integrated the Catholic school, the Florida State University high school and the new Rickards High School. The students went on to become lawyers, teachers, a businessmen and a doctor.Collaboration with the Riley House Museum to help identify subjects and provide source information was critical to the success of the project.

Date and Time:

10:00am - 2:00pm September 27, 2013 - February 28, 2014


John G. Riley Center/Museum
419 East Jefferson Street,
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Contact Information:

John G. Riley Center/Museum



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