Reading, Writing, and Racism
In 1963, Rosalind Blalock was a senior at the all-black Dunbar High School. She was planning a career in medical technology and wanted to transfer to the all-white Fort Myers High School, which had better science equipment and new textbooks. Because she was black, however, Rosalind was denied enrollment. Rosalind’s father helped to instigate a lawsuit that would continue for 35 years.
In 1964, on behalf of African-American students in the district, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a complaint in federal court alleging that the Lee County public school system operated an unconstitutional racially segregated school system.
The first desegregation plan between the Board of Public Education of Lee County and the NAACP closed Dunbar High School—the heart of the black community—and required African-American children to be bussed to schools all over the county to fulfill racial quotas.
In 1998, the Lee County School District divided the county into three geographic zones, initiating a program called School Choice. Under this plan, parents could choose from a list of schools in their geographic zone. Once a child is enrolled at a school, he or she stays there to the highest grade available.