On July 15-17, the Foster/King Lab 1966 Kindergarten Reunion Project will sponsor an event at the Weisbourd-Holmes Family Focus Center (formerly Foster/King Lab School) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of School District 65’s elementary schools. More than 50 former kindergartners, teachers, parents, and community members who participated in this historic event are expected to attend.

This reunion marks a major milestone in the desegregation of District 65’s elementary schools.  In September 1966, 242 black and white kindergartners participated in an experimental desegregation effort at Foster School, in the heart of the 5th Ward in Evanston. As part of a district-wide desegregation plan, District 65’s all-black Foster School accepted white kindergartners (who were bused from predominantly white neighborhoods) to the school. The education these District 65 students received from their passionate, talented teachers was excellent and engaging, incorporating socially relevant curriculum through innovative teaching methods. But this courageous experiment occurred at a very tumultuous time in Evanston, resulting in the firing of the superintendent who oversaw the desegregation process (by a 4 to 3 vote of the school board). Eventually, Evanston’s black community lost its only neighborhood school when Foster – by then renamed the Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School – closed down permanently.

Beginning on July 15, original kindergartners and their parents, teachers, administrators, and community members will gather to talk about what this experience meant for them and for the community, and what implications it has for the state of race relations and schools in the U.S.  today.

Events will also include panel discussions. Confirmed panelists include Wanda Len Davis and Thomas J. Mertz, 1966 Foster kindergartners; Carlton Moody, former King Lab faculty; Robin Tucker (formerly Robin Moran), parent of a 1966 kindergartner and Chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Integration; Dr. Iva Carruthers, noted educator and social advocate; Bennett Johnson, Activist and Founder of Path Publishing, the first black-owned book publishing company in the United States (past executive, Third World Press); and Reverend Dr. Michael C. R. Nabors, Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church of Evanston. The community is welcome to attend these open forums. The 1967 documentary by Larry Brooks, “The Desegregation of Foster School,” will be shown.

For additional information and to register visit: http://www.classcreator.com/evanston-illinois-fosterking-lab-1966/class_index.cfm.