Turn To Tara: Historian highlights Rockland’s role leading up to civil rights movement

Posted: Updated:
HILLBURN -

A local historian is highlighting the fact that Rockland County played a pivotal role in the lead-up to the civil rights movement.

Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice who led the landmark legal battle that brought school segregation to a crashing halt, also fought for equality in Rockland County.

Historian Joe Allen has produced the documentary “Two Schools in Hillburn,” which details the desegregation battle in Hillburn in 1943. Glenda Royster recalls the painful memories of the events in the documentary.

"We had crosses burned on our houses, called names, we had no rights, we didn't realize that was wrong, because that what's life was like at that time,” she says. “Back then, it was really hard, you had to really try to keep your spirits up."

When African-American children were forced to attend an all-black school, parents eventually kept their students home in protest.  They also brought in an up-and-coming lawyer from the NAACP to champion their cause: Thurgood Marshall.

The brash young attorney fought to integrate Hillburn’s all-white elementary school and won.

Eleven years later, he would go on to fight the case that became a cornerstone of the civil rights movement - Brown vs. the Board of Education.

In 2018, Sen. David Carlucci pushed a bill to honor that local legacy. If it passes, a portion of Route 17 in the village will forever be known as the Thurgood Marshall Memorial Highwway.

  • Turn To Tara: Historian highlights Rockland’s role leading up to civil rights movementMore>>

  • Black History Month

    Black History Month

    Each week, News 12 highlights a resident or group that made a difference in black history.Each week, News 12 highlights a resident or group that made a difference in black history.
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."