Opelika Middle School

Dublin Core


Opelika Middle School


Education; Lee County, AL; Opelika, AL; Opelika Middle School; Henry G. Clift High School; Johnson, Judge Frank; J.W. Darden High School; Carver Elementary School; Jeter Elementary School; Desegregation; Civil Rights Era; Green v. New Kent County, VA;


In 1959, Henry G. Clift High School relocated to a new facility at 1206 Denson Drive and rechristened itself Opelika High School, the institutional name it bore from 1911 to 1918. U.S. District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson gave the Opelika city school system an ultimatum in August, 1969 to desegregate and redistribute the black student body of J.W. Darden High School, Carver Elementary School, and Jeter Elementary School. Opelika High School integrated minimally in 1967 as it converted to a “Freedom of Choice” school, thus allowing black or white students to attend voluntarily. After the 1968 US Supreme Court decision in Green v. New Kent County., VA rendered “Freedom of Choice” schools unconstitutional and ordered the dismantling of dual school systems and the creation of systems “without a ‘white’ school and a ‘negro’ school, but just schools.” Because the Denson Drive building was too small to accommodate the influx of black students from Darden (Opelika’s black high school) and the white high school students who opted to stay in public school, the city hastily erected a new high school on Lafayette Parkway in 1972. Since 1972, the Denson Drive building has functioned as Opelika Middle School. The Denson Drive facility housed a segregated high school and a desegregated middle school and today remains a tangible vestige of Jim Crow’s demise in the city.


Taylor McGaughy


Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Opelika_Middle_School.JPG

Text Sources: Joseph M. Bagley, A Meaningful Reality: The Integration of the Opelika, Alabama City School System, 1965-1972 (MA Thesis, Auburn University, 2007), 40-42.

The Heritage of Lee County Book Committee, The Heritage of Lee County, Alabama (Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000), 78.


Alabama Cultural Resource Survey




Taylor McGaughy


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