HILLSBORO, Ohio — The city of Hillsboro honored the legacy of a group of mothers and children Saturday. The "Marching Mothers of Hilsboro" marched for their children's right to a fair education over half a century ago.
In the 1950’s, Hillsboro Schools refused to follow the federal mandate from the Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education which integrated schools. Still, 17 mothers and 32 children spent years marching to Webster elementary school where their children were refused entrance.
Joyce Kittrell was only 12-years-old when she marched back and forth to school with her mother.
“We as children, as we marched, we didn't understand exactly what was happening,” Kittrell said. “But later on, we realize it. We realized that we as kids, we had to do more when it comes to learning than the other kids because we knew once we got in school, probably be even harder for us.”
Teresa Williams marched with her mother as a child. She said it wasn’t an easy walk.
“It was hard because I had broke my hip when I was 10,” Williams said. “I look back and we had a car but our parents was determined to make us go on forward.”
The Marching Mother’s walk from the bottom of the hill on Walnut Street all the way across town to Webster elementary became legendary.
“My kids, my grandkids, I mentioned to them that if it hadn't been for this March, if it hadn't been for us going through what we were going through, you probably would be in worse shape than we are now,” Kittrell said.
The daily marches led to a lawsuit that gave them victory as the first successful integration case in Ohio to date. Decades later, marchers are being honored by the city of Hillsboro with a bench dedicated to their determination.
“Our children, no matter who they are, what race or who they are, what they are doing, they can make it because of God,” Kittrell said. “All things are possible.”