The Atlantic Monthly’s “In Focus” features a photographic retrospective of the United States in 1962, and this image of mothers picketing outside Glenfield Junior High School made #31 on the list.

The caption of the photo reads:

Parents of students picket Glenfield Junior High School in Montclair, New Jersey, to dramatize their effort to improve education for the school’s students, 90 percent of whom are African-American, in Montclair, New Jersey, prior to the school board’s decision on August 22, 1962 to divide Glenfield’s 182 students among the wealthy suburb’s three other high schools.

Thanks to Go Lightly’s Jen Chaky, who posted a link to the photo on Facebook.



50 replies on “Protestors at Glenfield School – 50 Years Ago”

  1. Time to get out those signs again. the 2010s are gonna make the 50’s look tame.

    NJ budget–surprise was lower than expected.

  2. bebopgun & redrum: to even think that we are living in a world anything like the 50’s or 60’s is about the dumbest thing I’ve read. We have a Black President who just publicly said he believes in same-sex marriage.

    … And nothing happened.

    Please tell me, how today is like then, or bebopgun gonna make the 50’s look tame.

    Are times perfect? H*LL NO! But is it anything like the 50’s?

    To be clear, Obama only won cause good White folks voted for him. Please tell me how this is like the 50’s. Really, do either of you know anything about the America’s racial history? Remember when Black folks were murdered for looking at white women, or trying to help other Black folks vote?

    I’m struck by the level of stupidity in these comments.

    Or maybe you thought “The Help” was set in 2012? In Montclair?

  3. Much has changed since 1962.
    Glenfield’s break down is now this (the first # is Glenfield the second is the state average):

    White, not Hispanic 56% 54%
    Black, not Hispanic 34% 17%
    Hispanic 5% 20%
    Asian/Pacific Islander 5% 8%
    American Indian/Alaskan Native <1% <1%

    This out of 694 students.

    It is an amazing school!

  4. Don’t confuse them with facts, Holly.

    I’m (still) waiting to hear why and how 2012 is gonna make the 50’s look tame. Or how/why we need to get those signs out again.

    Maybe we should ask our newly elected Black Mayor?

  5. As far as I know our children (bi-racial children) are counted as black. Is this true?

  6. Our children as in your child and my children. As far as I know the Prof and I have no children together.

  7. It’s a metaphor. Nothing has changed because we still see the world in black and white:

    Because we have not completely solved the issue of racism, it is just like the 1950s.

    There is no difference between advocating for gay marriage and suggesting people should be allowed to marry their pets.

    Requiring school uniforms is “radical” and equates to “bullying” parents.

  8. We check Black. And at some of the schools, this may be filled in by the office. (Not sure elementary kids check boxes for themselves.)

    And, damn you Holly– you said you wouldn’t tell anyone!!!

    So, everyone, here’s “our” (mine and Holly) little girl.

  9. Mainly what’s changed are our expectations. They are sky high. People feel they are owed certain things.

    America’s been on a bull run since the 50’s. We’re at a tipping point where we either continue to progress or a lot of people–including the boomers in the photo–are going to see a dimunition of their lifestyles.

    Its only 2012. We’ll see how it goes.

  10. This picture blew me away for reasons I can’t even articulate. Prof, I think you’re wrong about the 2008 election: Obama did not win a white majority. The white majority voted for the other guy. Obama won by a white minority, and an overwhelming “ethnic” vote. I think it was the first time, in a presidential election, that a minority vote swung the outcome. Huge. Are things better? Yes. Is it all behind us? no — not by a long shot. Is it over? No. Wouldn’t you agree?

  11. kit,

    I think you said it perfectly: “Are things better? Yes. Is it all behind us? no — not by a long shot. Is it over? No. Wouldn’t you agree?”

  12. Many of my old time friends went to Nishuane back in the 60s and 70s. Back then the school had about 10 students (maybe less) One of the white students told me that she loved it and was extremely involved with extra curricular activities and sports. Many of my friends who attended Nishuane are extremely successful adults today. They are also among the most dedicated volunteers and board members in town and exceptionally successful professionals and even a US Senator.

  13. “I think you said it perfectly: “Are things better? Yes. Is it all behind us? no — not by a long shot. Is it over? No. Wouldn’t you agree?”

    I agree and I think that here in the US, we have an evil wound to live with who’s ugly scar will never completely disappear.

  14. @ bebopgun, you’re in so far over your head at this point. Our expectations? Your explanation leaves me wanting, so please, explain…

    @ Kit, who said “majority.?

    And are you really trying to turn Obama’s election into something other than an unimaginable event? Really, ask any of the folks in the picture if they thought a mere 40-years later America would– with only a 12% Black population- elect a Black man.

    Hell, ask Black folks in 2000 if they EVER thought a Black man would be elected.

    No. Obama’s election showed that all this “things are better, but…” stuff is folks looking for some kinda perfect society. It ain’t here. And it won’t be here. Waiting for the day when we all get along and everything is equal is crazy. But comparing now to that dream is crazier.

    Understand, for the most part, King’s dream came true. But don’t confuse it with poverty and the repercussions of it.

    Also, your overwhelming minority vote for Obama is the Democratic base.

  15. Prof- Dang that song was rather good. Look I lied. How long did you think I was going to keep that under my hat?

    Frank R- When I lived in Fort Lee it was not about blacks and white nor when I lived in Englewood. Look at the demographic above. This what we live with in this area.

    I think one of the most bizarre things is how white people think it is ok to tell my husband (a black man) that he is pretty much white.

  16. Roo- yes, sorry about the terminology… Afro-American and Northern European Caucasian. I have to leave the purples and greenies out of it because they are 65% of the world population.

    Holly – why do you use the word bizarre? You know its the wrong word, but you used it for a reason that escapes me.

  17. Dumb white folks think telling someone black they are “white” is some kinda compliment. That is bizarre, dumb, odd, curious, or whatever word you like. It’s no different from black folks telling some white folks, “you’re different” than other white folks I met.

    Understand, being curious and, even perhaps saying something awkward is fine. I have no problem talking to anyone about race, and listening. It’s when folks make assumptions and then smile- thinking you feel the same way- that makes me nuts.

    @ Frank Rubacky, is that a real question? America’s original sin is slavery, it was not about Asian Americans, Latinos, Irish, or Muslims. It was black and white. This cannot be news to you. To wonder why racism always turns to, ah- race, black and white- shows either how little you know, or little you believe.

    Either way, to ask the question says a lot…

  18. Interesting, Prof, that you’re saying things I might agree with, but you’re expressing it in such a snarly, off-putting way that I assume we’re farther apart than we really might be.

  19. I said bizarre because it always makes my head spin. I said it and I stand by it. Now I am curious as to why you thought I said the wrong word.

    And I second what PW said. I have had many black people tell me I am not like other white folks. I’m never sure if I should grab a sweater set and talk through my teeth while swirling my gin and tonny or grab a banjo throw some straw in my mouth and sing “The Rodeo Song”

    I have never played the banjo so I’m not sure how that would work out.

  20. Interesting, and wholly commendable (if in a post-facto sense) that the protesters are so “properly” dressed. These women clearly understood that it helps to dress seriously if one wishes to be taken seriously. Just like the Reverend Doctor King and Reverend Abernathy always did.

    How things have changed, too. Now we have the Occupy crowd (plus the revived SDS at Montclair State!) and all this crew resembless is, to use a term John Osborne coined, “instant rabble.”

    Prof, old cartoon from the New Yorker for you. It showed a scowling, Afro-ed, dashiki-clad African-American guy at a party staring down a meek-looking white dude in a suit and horn rims. Whose reply is ” I’m sorry, you must be mistaken. I wasn’t even in Virginia in the early 17th entury.”

    But do YOU remember the racial climate of the 50’s yourself, good prof? You seem a little young. Perhaps it’s just me, too, but when I think upon the sometimes still parlous state of race relations, I invariably recall the murder of an NYC policeman in a Nation of Islam mosque, how the NYPD was conspicuously sloooooowwwww pursuing the case and how even today the cop’s murder is unsolved. I also recall the murders of both black and white cops by the BLA, the very group that Bernadine Dohrn, Billy Ayers and their ilk saw as the “vanguard” of the coming revolution. And, yes, I recall Angela Davis, Clark Squire and the rest of that merry band of “liberators.” Plus that murdering and hijacking clown in Portugal which that country refuses to extradite.

    This issue of race relations, in other words, is a very involved one. Wouldn’t you agree, Kit Schackner? (No matter how armed you always seem to come with so many smug suppositions to any “debate” on this site.)

  21. Ugh. This makes my head spin too I like to think I’m color blind. I don’t know. I just wish it didn’t matter. I don’t care. To me, color doesn’t matter but stupid does.

  22. Holly, there are times when you seem via your comments to be distinctly out of your probably limited depth. Perhaps you should stick to a consideration of martini pitchers and glassware?

    Still, I’m quite sure that black people have told you you’re not like “other white folks.” Yet are you sure they were paying you a compliment?

  23. Holly,
    I’m projecting, but I would be doubly angry. Angry about the remark and angry about the pain my spouse had to laugh off.
    I would have no problem with feeling or showing anger. Anger is a good thing. But, mismanaged anger has a nasty habit of turning into resentment, or worse.
    Of course, we all have to pick our spots to which to make a stand, so to speak.
    PW is stuck in a past time period which defines his present. I have to acknowledge his audacity in taking a very important Christian concept as Original Sin and saying it has been reproduced in America in the 18th century, not by God, but by Northern European Caucasians.

  24. And jerseygurl, no one, I suspect, is ever truly “color blind.”

    It used to be a truism in Nam that war, especially in terms of the bullets expended there, was color blind. But when it came stand-down time, the “brothers” (or “the bloods,” which was more common over there in my experience) generally drank by themselves in the Enlisted Men’s and Non-Commissioned Officers’ clubs. I can even recall fistfights in those places over the music the dj’s played. Was it to be Merle Haggard and Buck Owens or The Temptations and James Brown? Guys would literally break heads over such a seemingly silly issue.

  25. So…in English…death didn’t discriminate in Viet Nam, but servicemen tended to stick with those they felt most comfortable with(enlisted vs officer, black vs white) when not busy trying to save each others’ lives. And these mostly young and frustrated, distressed men would sometimes fight over issues that they cared about because those issues reflected their stateside experiences and identities, and the fights distracted them from more complex emotional challenges of war.

  26. Where were the “three other high schools” in 1962?
    I’m guessing that Mt. Hebron was one?

    Pictures like this one, and the stories that accompanied them, proved to be quite inspiring to young people in the North of Ireland in the 60s and 70s. Leaders like King and Abernathy and Malcolm X provided a blueprint for how to raise awareness of the issue. Of course, in Ireland as here these protests were often met with violence, but in time some progress was made. I’m certain that without voices raised, nothing would have changed.

    Prof Williams is absolutely right. Slavery is America’s original sin. As an outsider in some ways I’ve always been puzzled by white Americans who urge blacks to “get over it, it was long ago”. It was 150 years ago. In most places in the world, certainly in Europe, that was last week. I know that things are different here, and I like it that way, but honestly to think that the consequences of this history would have worked itself out after this wink in time is insane.
    But there has been progress, at least in some places. And it is NOT better everywhere else. My biracial children grew up, for the most part, in Britain. They caught the same shite kids caught here at that time, with an even smaller support system. I’m always amused at Europeans who bemoan American racism while turning a blind eye to the barbarous systems they profited from for hundreds of years.

    However, the best line of the night has to be “I’ve been told that I’m not like other white people”. Does one get a card to carry about attesting to this?

  27. grrrrrmom – we are having a perfectly enjoyable, unintelligible, testosterone-laced conversation about the course of racism from the point of Original Sin through the Vietnam Era and you want to translate one paragraph? It seems unseemly to trump our unseemliness.

  28. Youse can all pog mo thoin, because I’ve got THIS!!!:


  29. Between the “Good White Person” certificate, and the “I’ve been told that I’m not like other white people” card, I believe we can now offer the Baristanet Racial Immunity Cloak, or BRIC.

    The BRIC can be used as a shield or sword. But it conveys upon its owner the ability to bring to a quick close ANY “racial” discussion. Imagine simply ending a conversation that is spinning out of control, by tossing a BRIC at someone to end it.

    Racial healing is a warm BRIC.

  30. The day we see integrated Tea Party rallies, I’ll know something has changed.

  31. Just one historical correction with the Protest at Glenfield Article; an error which prompted

    one poster to ask “Where were the “three other high schools” in 1962?

    According to the article, “New Jersey, prior to the school board’s decision on August 22,

    1962 to divide Glenfield’s 182 students among the wealthy suburb’s three other high

    schools.” The article left out one word, “Junior,” it should have said “three other junior high

    schools.” In 1962, before Montclair integrated its public schools, Montclair had 4 Junior

    High Schools; Glenfield, Hillside, Mt Hebron, and George Inness-(across from the high

    school on the Park Street side). It wasn’t until after the Desegregation Order that Montclair

    adopted the concept of Middle Schools.

  32. By expectation, I meant that the USA would continue to progress. I looked at the above and thought of the fight for social justice in general terms not only racial.

    It’s early in the 2010s. Uncle Sam’s credit card is nearly maxed out and the economy is headed in the wrong direction. Our political class is clueless on local and federal levels and Americans will not take to austerity very well.

  33. herb was an overwhelming minority in his hs and growing up, on the basketball team in hs I was the easiest one to spot on the court…. we never really thought much about that stuff growing up…you just didn’t pay attention to it, i guess when your all in the same boat you don’t think there is any difference…it never was really on my radar until the liberal white profs in college started spouting what i considered insulting attitude toward minorities and how it seemed as though it was their job to watch over them like children and take care of them…they weren’t describing the people i grew up with… i’d love for my friends mom who was a teacher to get a hold of some of those profs, they wouldn’t a second in a debate with her…..

    spiro, Here are the just a few of the black tea partiers you couldn’t find. You know the one’s you libs call uncle tom’s and make fun of…

    For Democrats to be preaching to anyone about equality is laughable , just look at your party throughout history, you should be embarrassed.

  34. Frank- Got it. I say bizarre now but I’m sure at the time these things were said I was angry.

    I find it stange that white people (never black people) will tell me on a regular basis how my children are cute because they are biracial or how all biracial children are cute “Its the perfect blend”. Can you imagine if I said that to a white parent with a white child? “He is the perfect blend of white and white.”

  35. Herb,you refer to the Southern Dixiecrats and KKK folks, I presume? They all flocked over to the Republican party as part of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” back in the 1960’s.

  36. Sorry…I intended to say…. “Nishuane back in the 60s and 70s. Back then the school had about 10 white students (maybe less) …”

  37. Can you imagine if I said that to a white parent with a white child? “He is the perfect blend of white and white.”

    You can always say, “he is so cute, he is the perfect blend of Cossack and ignorant peasant.”

  38. There was a lot of protest action in NJ during the 1960s. Against the war, against block-busting real estate practices, against plans to move the medical and dental school to Madison, against police brutality, against groceries that raised prices just before welfare check day, against failing urban schools, etc. The plans to demolish 400 blocks of Newark for a freeway from I-280 to I-78 remained an ongoing point of anger for many.

    Protestors also marched in Madison (against barbers who would not cut the hair of African-American people), and Westfield (against real estate agents who wouldn’t show certain homes to qualified African-American people).

    Laws and public acceptance forced changes in some things, and left other things pretty much the same. The folks who dressed up in their Sunday best, picked up signs and went out to demand changes are getting old now, but they stood up for their rights and those of future generations.

  39. Holly, I’ll say it: I am P*ssed Off for you. Those sorts of ignorant comments make me want to say things I may regret later (or maybe not). Where can I pick up my BRIC? That would solve a lot of problems for me.

    However, as regards the census, it irritates me that I have to check boxes on the forms at all. Hubby says his “race” is “hispanic” but we all know that some anthropologist somewhere decided that “hispanic” is not a “race”. I think Prof and I have had this discussion before. My understanding is that it’s supposedly so that certain nabes can receive certain assistance or programs. But if those are based exclusively on race, then (a) it’s a full-on insult, and (b) discriminatory. If you have a nabe of destitute Martians, and a nabe of destitute Elves, who gets the assistance? Does it really matter what planet they’re from? Does the government assume that only Martians need the help, simply because they are Martians?? Am I the only one who is ticked off by this?

  40. The first race discussions in Montclair history books discuss the first black neighborhoods (late 1700s and early 1800s) but I feel that what is also significant is that there is a very prominent local founding family who is mixed, both black and white. (They currently reside in NYC and East Hampton, NY))
    The historically significant James Howe family in Montclair (Cranetown) are mixed, apparently both black and white and that they are connected with the founders of Montclair, the Crane Family. 1831 documents show that James Howe was a manumitted slave and General Crane willed 6 acres of land in Montclair, acreage in Caldwell and acreage in the Rutherford Meadowlands. The first black neighborhood was Frog Hollow in the 1700s and a 1934 documents describes a black neighborhood at Claremont & Upper Mountain Avenue ” …a cluster of mean houses standing at the north of the road. They are occupied by Negros. The origins of this little settlement lies in the last will and testament of the late major nathaniel Crane, who died a bachelor…he left six acres to “James How, a colored man, late a slave, whom I manumitted”. This little settlement is destined to remain, in part at least, in the possession of James How, his heirs and assigns, much longer than some of the white people who are about to come to occupy this hillside will desire, for it occupies one of the most eligible sites in the town.”
    Its remarkable that the adjacent property was owned by famous suffragist and abolitionist, Lucy Stone who lived at North Mountain Avenue…..
    …and was connected with Julia Howe who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic…(this song has a hidden message about slavery)
    Meanwhile, about a mile away, Henry Howe, who descended from James Howe, a Scottsman who immigrated to Connecticut in the 1600s was one of the founding Landowners of Llewellyn Park….
    … the Howes were Farm Real Estate developers, along with the Cranes… the Edison Factory worker’s neighborhood next to the South End of Montclair was a Howe owned Poultry farm. What remains is of this tract is Howe Street in Montclair. Henry Howe ‘s son was a train line engineer and train line developer who worked on the creation of the train tunnel (abandoned) under the Freed Slave House (James Howe) at Claremont & Upper Mountain)
    …as well as other How (and Howe) owned estate properties in town, The deeds show that the properties were brought and sold for a dollar and then there are signatures of sheriffs, other important landowners and banks. Andreas Howe was a prominent real estate developer in town (one of the founders of the local chapter of Masons) and his house still stands at The Crescent. Nearby on Orange Road, across from The Israel Crane house (moved to this site in the 1960s) there are a few small farmhouses that were owned by the Howes. It seems that the Crane family, along with the Howes (both black and white) organized Montclair to be a big “safe house” destination along the Underground Railroad, were immigrating blacks could find work, buy land and establish businesses. Seems all extremely noble and righteous but I am also thinking that “Freedom” was a lucrative business back in the late 1800s.

  41. Wow! How interesting, the response to the very astute observation that these (and the country’s) rade discussions tends to be about African-Americans. Basically, the comment was blown off. Ouch. Very telling. Greens and purples might be your euphemism for, say, Asians? In other words, you do view them as aliens? Or invisible? Or non-existent? Worth laughing off? Point made.

  42. Oh–and since when does discrimination against African-Americans seem somehow more real (than that experiences by other groups) because of slavery? Again, it’s like saying those who aren’t African-American (or white) have no right to–well, their rights. Yikes.

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