She can’t shake the memory — the sneering faces, the screaming, the wrath.
Francine Williams was one of about 30 black students in New York City to integrate Lafayette High School in Brooklyn in 1965. Before class let out one afternoon, a crowd had gathered outside in the predominantly Italian American neighborhood of Bensonhurst. Her teacher assured her that the school had a plan for this and told her and other black students to gather in the lobby.
She thought that administrators would call their parents or the police. But instead the principal opened the front door and said, “We can protect you while you’re on school property. But now you have to leave.”