TN state lawmakers honor ‘Memphis 13’

Updated: Mar. 3, 2022 at 5:00 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis 13, the first black students to integrate in Memphis City Schools back in 1961, were honored with a resolution in the Tennessee House of Representatives on Thursday. Rep. G.A. Hardaway was the sponsor of the resolution.

“Thirteen young people. 13 tiny feet. Small hands, but big hearts full of courage,” Hardaway said.

Their transition into Memphis public schools happened seven years after Brown V. Board of Education.

“It’s not merely about what the court says. It’s about what the people do,” he said.

Dwania Kyles was among the five of the 13 who were present during recognition in addition to family members. She spoke on behalf of the group.

“We can make laws and keep making laws, but if we’re not changing our hearts, as it relates to the laws that we’re making, we are going to repeat the same thing over and over again,” she said.

Kyles says when the Memphis 13 shares their story, it’s from the heart. For them, the joint resolution is a way to honor, acknowledge and celebrate the actions they took as children. Kyles ended her speech with words from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.

“Everybody can be great because everyone can serve. All you need is a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. Thank you.”

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