— Scarboro 85 —
A Monument to
Healing and Unification
These Civil Rights Heroes
Celebrate December 3
First Black Athletes to break the color barrier in Southeast Public Schools and Universities
Back in 1955!!!
The Scarboro 85
An American Triumph
to Enter into All-White
Southeastern Public Schools
to participate in all-white Southeastern Public School and university Sports
major victory over Jim Crow
Opening-the-Door for the historic “Brown” court Decision
The Scarboro 85 School Desegregation
Occurred in 1955:
Five years before Ruby Bridges entered public schools in New Orleans,
Two years before the Little Rock Nine,
A year before the Clinton Twelve,
Several months before Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks rose to national prominence by leading the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, and
Six years before the first three Black undergraduates entered the University of Tennessee (Fifteen years before the first Black UT basketball player!)
Help us build a beautiful monument to these forgotton national heroes!!
Make a Donation
Join the Movement
Become a part of this exciting endeavor !!
Volunteers & Contributors
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Were the Scarboro 85 First?
The Scarboro 85 were the very-first Black students to enter All-White Southeastern public schools. Although some schools in the North and West had desegregated a year earlier — no schools in the Southeast did so. Southeastern schools formed a unified block of defiance to the Supreme court: no desegregation.
Many felt that Southeastern public schools would never agree to mixed clases. Then the brave Scarboro 85 students, parents, and teachers risked dangerous retaliation to quietly enter All-White classes. They were first!
2. Why did the Scarboro 85 school desegregation change America?
It was the first major breakthrough of the Southeast’s segregated Jim Crow racial culture. The Southeast’s culture was the major racial question facing America back in 1955. Scarboro 85 launched the modern American Civil Rights era.
Back in 1954, the Southeastern states openly challenged — as a unified, defiant block — the Supreme Court’s historic Brown desegregation ruling. Many experts dispaired that Southeastern public schools would never desegregate.
Then in the fall of 1955, eighty-five brave young Black students from the Scarboro neighborhood in Tennessee broke-through this seemingly-Impenetrable barrier.
Their game-changing desegregation demonstrated that the South could change — opening the way for the pioneering desegregtions that came later.
It was a real game-changer for our nation.
3. Did the Scarboro 85 pioneers break the color barrier in Public School and University Sports?
4. What key role did the Department of Energy play in the landmark Scarboro 85 desegregation?
5. How many Scarboro 85 students are still with us?
About 20 of these pioneering individuals are still with us (December 2023.)
They are in their 80s and 90s — which is why this is urgent. We are trying to honor these courageous souls with this monument while the 85 students are still with us.
6. What is the significance of the Scarboro 85 symbol: the Sankofa Bird?
7. How will the Scarboro 85 monument highlight — “Black and White communities coming together to help America?”
Anniversary of the First Black Athletes
The first Black Athletes allowed to participate in Southeastern Public School and University Sports did so on December 3, 1955 — when two Scarboro 85 students entered an Oak Ridge High School Basketball game. More Details
Celebrate Scarboro 85 and MLK
Celebrate the pioneering Scarboro 85 students and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a benefit basketball game at Robertsville Junior High School on January 15, 2023. All proceeds go to the Scarboro 85 Monument Project. More Details
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Our Partners & Sponsors
- City of Oak Ridge
- Weaver Consulting
- Oak Ridge Periodic Tables
- United Way of Anderson County
- Scarboro Community Alumni Association
- John and Vanessa Spratling
- Rose Weaver
- Martin and Anne McBride
- Pat Postma
- Pastor Henry and Trina Watson
- Karla Mullins
- D. Ray Smith
- Pastor David Alred
- Ram Uppuluri
- Ziad Demian
- Naomi Ascher
- Explore Oak Ridge
- Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association
scarboro 85 Monument Committee, Chairman
Coach John Spratling