First Day of School Desegregation


Holt, Jimmy




“First day of school desegregation” was taken on September 9, 1957 outside of Buena Vista School in Nashville, Tennessee. The photograph shows three African-American women walking a young African-American boy toward the entrance of the school. Meanwhile, a single white woman and three white children stand and sit on its steps. This photograph offers an opportunity to discuss justice and equality in America, as well as space, body language, prejudice and perceived difference.

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Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceExclusion and BelongingIdentity and CommunityImpact and OutcomesJustice and EqualityMotives and ValuesOrganizing and ActivismPower and PrivilegeRace, Ethnicity and CultureSocial and Political ChangeSpeech and ExpressionTeaching and Learning

Big Questions

Why is difference sometimes threatening?Who gets left out and why?What are the causes of injustice and inequality?What is the “status quo”? Does it need to be changed?How do we know or identify privilege?How does race affect our relations to others?What enables change? What gets in the way?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What is one word and one feeling that come to you as you look at this image?
  2. Which character are you drawn to? How would you describe that person?
  3. What do you find it hardest to look away from in this image?
  4. Where do you see difference in this image? Where do you see connection?
  5. What do we know when we look at this image? What do we not know?
  6. Who does Buena Vista School appear to belong to and why?
  7. Where do you see yourself in this image? Anywhere?
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