Governor Lee Honors Oak Ridge 85, Clinton 12 – 65 Years Later

Source: WBIR 10 News | Elizabeth Sims, Vinay Simlot | August 31, 2021

The Oak Ridge 85 and Clinton 12 were the first Black students to integrate public schools in the southeast.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee honored the history-making steps of the Oak Ridge 85 and the Clinton 12 during a ceremony in the Scarboro Community Center on Tuesday.

He gave out proclamations declaring Aug. 31 as Clinton 12 and Oak Ridge 85 Day.

The students of the Clinton 12 also received honorary high school diplomas from Anderson County Schools.

“When I think about these 97 young people must have felt in their heart, I’m starting to believe that we do overuse the word passion but I do believe we humans become passionate when we are either afraid of losing something so much that we are willing to move or when we want something so badly that we are willing to move,” Lee said.

“I would imagine in 1955 and 1956, there were 97 young people who wanted something so badly not just for themselves but for the people that they represented, the human beings that they would carve a path for that it took nothing less than profound passion to walk through jeers, ridicule, mocking, rejection but fueled by that desire for something more for the next generation of young African-American students in this country.”

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