Sand Springs, Oklahoma School Desegregation -Articles and Documents

The following are newspaper accounts about the school desegregation campaign, a CORE report, and the subsequent history of Sand Springs regarding its Black citizens.

From 1964–

“To Approve Transfers from Washington School to CPHS,” Sand Springs Leader, August 13, 1964. 

James W. Russell, Report on Project to Desegregate The Sand Springs, Oklahoma Public Schools, Tulsa Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), August 18, 1964

E.L. Goodwin Jr., “Sand Springs School Board Biased: Haynes, Ray, Russell Lead integration Fight; Students to Attempt Enrolling Friday,” Oklahoma Eagle (Tulsa), August 20, 1964.

“Negro Pupils Plan Rights Law Action,” New York Times, August 22, 1964

“S.S. CORE Member Seeks Integration Plan Changes,” Sand Springs Times, August 23, 1964.

Appendix: Tulsa Civil Rights Sit-in Movement Chronology

E.L. Goodwin Jr., “Sand Springs School Board Rejects Then Accepts High School Students: Decision Follows Protest Filed with U.S. Dist. Atty.Oklahoma Eagle (Tulsa), August 27, 1964.

“Six More Negro Students Approved to Attend CPHS,” Sand Springs Leader, August 27, 1964.

From 1992–

James W. Russell, “Marques Haynes Gave Civil Rights Movement a Dunk Shot,” The Chronicle (Willimantic, CT), December 7, 1992

2021 –

Guerin Emig, “The Story of Marques Haynes’ Assist with Sand Springs’ School Integration,” Tulsa World, February 26, 2021

John Neal, “The Desegregation of Charles Page High School in 1964,” Oklahoma Eagle, December 10, 2021.

John Neal, “How a Small Group Successfully Pushed School Desegregation in Sand Springs,” Oklahoma Eagle, December 17, 2021.

John Neal, “Move the Negroes Out: The Destruction of the Historically Black Neighborhood in Sand Springs,” Center for Public Secrets (Tulsa). A version of this article was published in the Oklahoma Eagle, January 17-24, 2022.

John Neal, “The Legacy of Sand Springs: Sand Springs Used Manipulation, Misinformation and Greed to Wipe Out a Black Community,” Oklahoma Eagle, January 25, 2022.

Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, “Four Sandites Recall 1964 Desegregation of Charles Page High School,” Sand Springs Leader, February 22, 2022. A version of this article was later published in the Tulsa World.

Randy Hopkins, “Sand Springs High School Honors Pioneer Black Alums,” Oklahoma Eagle, June 17, 2022.

Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, “58 Years in the Making, Plaque Commemorating Sand Springs’ School Desegregation is Dedicated,” Sand Springs Leader, June 20, 2022.

Appendix: Tulsa Civil Rights Sit-ins Movement (1963-1964)


“To Approve Transfers from Washington School to CPHS,” Sand Springs Leader, August 13, 1964. 

Free, or optional, transfers will be approved for senior student transferees from Washington high school to Page high school, it was announced Tuesday by T.E. Pafford, president of the Sand Springs Board of Education.

According to Pafford, the Board’s decision followed a meeting Monday, Aug. 10, of the Board with a group of patrons of Washington school, and other citizens, in the Board of Education offices.

Speaking for the Negro group on several school matters was Marquis Haynes, who had been chosen as spokesman at a meeting Monday, Aug. 10 of the Baptist church, corner of Oak and Elm Sts.

Parents and students are to sign transfer requests, Pafford said.  Transfer forms may be secured from the office of the Superintendent of Schools, Main at Broadway.

The Board president also pointed out that regular courses will continue, as in the past, at Washington school for Grades 1 through 12.

James W. Russell, Report on Project to Desegregate The Sand Springs, Oklahoma Public Schools, Tulsa Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), August 18, 1964


Sand Springs, Oklahoma is an industrial town located approximately two miles west of Tulsa off Highway 64. There are several factories in the town accounting for a significant wage-worker population which does not commute to Tulsa, therefore partially causing the town to progress in a typical small town pattern in certain areas relatively unaffected by its metropolis neighbor.


Each school day Negro children ride to school past white schools and white children ride to school past the Negro school. This is because Sand Springs has the only Negro school to service a scattered populace who are ineligible to go to school in Tulsa and are not allowed to go to white schools nearer-by. For example, Buford Colony, a small Negro rural areas which was reportedly first settled by refugees from the 1921 Tulsa race riot,* is located about 10 miles from Sand Springs. Between it and the town are located several white elementary schools which Negro children ride past on their way to Sand Springs Booker T. Washington. When the white children who inhabit these schools reach high school age they will ride past Booker T. Washington on their way to the white Charles Page High School. The concept of “bussing” in reverse has indeed been perfected over the years in Sand Springs.

At this point, the school that Negro children are “bussed” to should be revealed by examination. It should be remembered that all references to the Negro school system have been in the singular because that is what it is: one school building for all 12 grades!

The psychological disadvantages of having students from 6 to 18 years old all housed under one roof are not the only inadequacies. The building was built in the early part of the century and easily shows it age. The school, which has almost 400 students, lacks the physical facilities to offer a physical education program to high school girls; the equipment allotted to the school is inadequate, e.g. one microscope for all science courses; and the curriculum is far below standard.

Across town, white high school students go to an ultramodern high school which has all of the latest facilities, e.g. an indoor swimming pool, modern stage craft system, gymnasium, and football stadium. Most important of all, the school offers a much superior curriculum.

Since the high schools were the most drastic in their inequality, they have been the focus of our efforts and studies. We have found that Booker T. Washington offers 35 and ½ credits while Charles Pages offers 84. Of course such a revelation would of necessity mean that many examples of courses offered only at the white school of about 900 could be found. Seemingly of most concern to the parents was the lack of an equal trades program at Booker T. Washington.

While subjects liked printing, auto mechanics, drafting, and typing were offered at Charles Page, they were not at Washington. Such subjects as higher mathematics and Latin, among other, are unheard of in the high school grades of Washington, which hold 67 students.

It seems senseless at this point to continue with a description of the inequalities since they are so obvious and many that the documentation would entail more paper and time than is needed to prove an obvious case of discrimination. Suffice it to say that a high school division with 67 students, housed in a decrepit building, offering 35 and ½ credits, cannot provide the enrichment needed for the high school student than an ultra-modern school of 900 students with 84 credits can.  We later found out that the school was built to hold 1000 students.


This situation was brought to the attention of Tulsa CORE in early July 1964 after I talked with several of the unluckily affected citizens in Sand Springs. A committee was formed with me at the head. The other two members were Eugene Freeman and Bobby Brown. We proceeded to gather the facts of the case with from local citizens and records. During the second meeting we outlined our position in the case and consulted with our lawyer, Herbert Wright.

We decided at this time that it would be unwise to just charge into the case and work on it without the consent or knowledge of the Negro community involved. Therefore, we felt that we could best serve by setting the process for change in motion to be negotiated by the parents involved. During this period we would work as an advisory group.

Our lawyer was informed of this and he, having personal connections, arranged an informal meeting with Clyde Boyd, the superintendent of schools, and Ed Dubie, the school board clerk. We informed them that it was time that they started thinking about this problem and they agreed–after giving up the argument that Washington was adequate and the citizens satisfied. They argued that the white school had already reached its enrollment limit. At this time we did not have any figures to refute this contention so we made the suggestion (this was not a demand since we were representing no one but ourselves and therefore, not negotiating) that they might work on the idea of consolidating the twelfth grade this year, the eleventh next year, and so forth. They thought this was feasible and agreed to discuss it at their next board meeting. As the meeting broke up, they asked that we not release publicity, which understanding to mean formal, we did not.

We informed the people who we had been working with in Sand Springs of this decision and advised them to attend the open board meeting since it did concern them. The meeting was held on August 3, 1964. However Mr. Dubie, seeing the Negroes present, refused to discuss the problem stating, “I will not be pressured by a sit-in or whatever this is.” The board president, a Mr. Pafford, put off discussion of the issue for one week until they could have their lawyer present. Apparently they did not want the people concerned present when they made a decision.

It was decided at this time that a public meeting in the Negro community was needed to organize indigenous opposition to the status quo. That meeting was scheduled for August 8th in a local church. Prior to the meeting several CORE workers canvassed the community announcing the meeting and trying to gain more insight on the local situation.

As expected, there was widespread discontent with the status quo among the parents. However, at the same time, there was active opposition to any integration attempts from the teachers who were fearful for their jobs. In 1954, after the Supreme Court decision, these teachers had passed a petition requesting continuation of the segregated system (at this time the new white high school had not been constructed and the schools, at least physically, were more-or-less equal, probably accounting for the majority of the signatures on the petition).

A Mr. Tilmon is the principal of Washington and is described by most Negroes in Sand Springs as an Uncle Tom. He apparently enjoys his position by virtue of the fact that he cooperates with the white power structure. He has little respect in the Negro community.

After gathering this information we asked Marques Haynes, the basketball star who lives near Sand Springs, to come to the meeting since he has widespread respect and would make an ideal indigenous leader since he would not be subject to economic reprisals.

The meeting was held with about forty adults, mostly parents and teachers, attending. The CORE position and suggestions were outlined and then the meeting was thrown open to a floor discussion. At the conclusion the body went on record as being for an immediate abolition of all forms of segregation practiced in the school system and unanimously elected Marques Haynes to be their spokesman to present this view at the next board meeting.

At the board meeting on August 10, Mr. Haynes read a statement expressing the discontent of the Negro citizens of Sand Springs and concluded with the following demands:

1. Re-zoning of schools.

2. Integrating all 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students into the Charles Page High School.

3. Maintain and integrate Booker T. Washington High School teachers into the Sand Springs School System.

After much discussion, a compromise was agreed upon by the parents and the School Board whereas this year all seniors who desired such could transfer to Charles Page and at least five from each of the other two high school grades could transfer. The next year all juniors would be allowed to transfer, and so forth.

Although the CORE representatives there were not entirely satisfied with the compromise since we feel that Charles Page can absorb the 67 additional students and should take some teachers, it was the mood of those concerned to accept the compromise and since we were serving only on an advisory basis, we did not object.

Unfortunately though, the Board has reneged on this agreement inasmuch as they have refused to enroll any sophomores or juniors. Also, the obstinate nature of the processing of the transferees should be elaborated. Each student requesting a transfer is required to bring his parents to Boyd’s office. Boyd then proceeds to give them a one to two hour lecture on why they should not transfer. He threatens that there will be violence at the new school; he says that the students are not smart enough to “make it,” and generally intimidates those desiring a transfer. Thus far he has discouraged at least two from transferring. He has handled all the parties this way and, for a while, refused to give transfer applications to sophomores and juniors. Recently he has given out the applications after a second trip but has said that they were futile since none would be accepted.

At this time, CORE obtained permission to directly represent the sophomore and junior students and we are still working on our strategy. It appears now that on August 21 we will take a group of students up to Charles Page and attempt to enroll them with full publicity and then work from there.

*This is apparently not true according to people knowledgeable about Buford Colony’s history. (Note added in 2022)

E.L. Goodwin Jr., “Sand Springs School Board Biased: Haynes, Ray, Russell Lead integration Fight; Students to Attempt Enrolling Friday,” Oklahoma Eagle (Tulsa), August 20, 1964.

As organizations throughout the Nation celebrate the tenth anniversary of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, dispute has risen in our neighboring community of Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Since the passage of the law, the District has continued to maintain separate schools in the industrial community with the cooperation the Negro school principal, Mr. George Tillmon, and Negro residents.

A Caucasian member of the Congress of Racial Equality, James W. Russell, Sand Springs resident, became interested in the situation in early July and a committee from CORE was formed to investigate the school differences.

Inadequacies Explored

The committee found that the Negro Booker T. Washington High offers 35.5 credits, while Charles Page High offers 84. That the Negro school is housed in one building of grades 1 through 12, with only 67 students in the high school as compared to 900 in Charles Page.

That Page offers courses in printing, auto mechanics, drafting, typing, etc. while Washington has no physical education, one microscope, no vocational training courses, personal hygiene, and subjects in higher mathematics. Latin etc. are unheard of. Not to mention the psychological disadvantages of having students from 6 to 18 years old all housed under one roof.

Positive Discrimination

An obvious case of discrimination is clearly illustrated from the facts indicated. In ten years the

Sand Springs School Board has not seen the disadvantages of maintaining a separate inadequate high school for 67 students in a dilapidated building, offering 35.5 credits as compared to the ultra-modern school for whites which provides the well-rounded education desired.

The Washington school houses approximately 500 students in a building which was built in the early part of the century that features an outdoor swimming pool for the Negro population.

Superior Curriculum

Across town the white students enjoy an indoor swimming pool, modern stage craft system, gymnasium, football stadium and a far superior curriculum.

Seeing the disadvantages, Russell through CORE Attorney Herb Wright and the committee agreed with the Negro citizens of the community to work in an advisory capacity.

A meeting with the citizens and two members of the board: Clyde Boyd, Superintendent of Schools and Ed Dubie, school board clerk–was arranged. The duo agreed that something should be done to correct the situation after giving up the argument that the Negro school was adequate and the Negro citizens were satisfied.

Marques Haynes, well-known Negro cage great of Harlem Globetrotters and Magicians fame, presented a proposal to the seven member school board on August 10. Hynes, a native of Sand Springs, read a proposal to five members present before the interested Negro citizenry.

Expressing their discontent, he proposed: 1. Rezoning of schools. 2. Integrating 10th, 11th and 12th grade students into Charles Page High School. 3. Maintain and integrate Booker T. Washington High School teachers into the Sand Springs School System.

Reject Proposal

The Board consisting of Mr. Ben Cole, Mr. Doyle Cannon, Mr. Tom Pafford, Boyd and Dubie rejected the proposal and sought to effect a compromise. Absent were a Mr. Randall and Debolt.

After much discussion, the board insisted that the dispute was brought about by “outsiders” but were reassured that CORE only acted as advisors.

The Board consented to integrating the senior class at Washington consisting of eighteen students and at least 5 in the 10th and 11th grades. Although the Page High School was built to facilitate 1000 students they board said that it was physically and financially impossible to absorb all 67 Washington High School students.

The Citizenry agreed to accept the compromise and were assured the procedure would be carried out. However, when several of the Negroes attempted to obtain transfers from Superintendent Boyd, they were taken into his office and talked to about whether it was best as Principal Tillmon sat in the outer offices. Boyd told the Negro students there will be violence and that the students are not smart enough to “make it,” and generally intimidated those desiring a transfer.

Sly Tactics

He has reportedly refused to give transfer applications to sophomores and juniors.

Recently he has given out the applications to sophomores and juniors after a second trip but has said that (applications) were void since none would be accepted.

Friday morning a number of students will make attempts to enroll in the Page High School. Meanwhile the Negro Civic Community Club has agreed to support any child financially with books, lab fees, etc. that cannot afford to attend the high school.

A stalwart in the school integration movement has been Rev. K.E. Ray, pastor of First Baptist Church there. Efforts have been reportedly made by several members of his congregation to oust him as pastor for the forthright stand he has taken. Ray is an asset to the community and is the first Negro member of the Kansas City, Mo. Parole Board.

Negro Wants Job

Meanwhile, I have not talked with Principal Tillmon, but his wife averred that, “I would like to keep my job, and I hope the Washington students don’t transfer.”

The situation is unique in that following the 1954 school decision, the Charles Page school had not been constructed and the two high schools were at least physically the same. Washington High School teachers were instructed to pass out petitions requesting continuation of the segregated system and were successful.

The School Board said that they felt the citizens of Sand Springs were satisfied up until a month ago. They let it be known that they run the school board and will not be pressurized by “outside” forces into school integration.

Legal Fight Brews

Sand Springs Negro leaders say they will exhaust all legal means to see that schools in all grade levels will be integrated.

In the past, white children have been “bussed” right past Washington High School to Charles Page. What about the Negro children who are in walking distance? We know about the School Integration Decision of 1954! Shouldn’t they?

Members of the Civic Community Club are Mr. and Mrs. Edward Westbrooks, Marques Haynes, Mrs. Hazel Crawford, Mr. Oscar Malone, Deacon Knight, Rev. E. Jones, Mr. E. Towns, Mrs. Farmer, Gene Solomon, Rev. K.E. Ray, Mrs. Vernelle Gant, Mrs. Bessy May Zachary, and Mrs. Corella Long.


Negro Pupils Plan Rights Law Action,” New York Times, August 22, 1964

SAND SPRINGS, Okla., Aug. 21 (UPI) Five Negro students were refused enrollment today in the 10th and 11th grades of Charles Page High School and met with the United States Attorney John Imel to discuss filing of a complaint under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Mr. Imel said he had advised the students and members of the Congress of Racial Equality on the proper method of filing the complaint. He said they indicated they would take the necessary steps.

He said the complaint must be filed in writing by an individual student or the parents of a student, and could not be filed by an organization or group. He said the complaint would be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and if a violation of the Civil Rights Act was found a report would be sent to the Attorney General in Washington.

“S.S. CORE Member Seeks Integration Plan Changes,” Sand Springs Times, August 23, 1964.

            Three Negro students enrolled at Charles Page high school this week, the first Negroes to enroll in the school, and five others were told that they could not enroll until the Board of Education had approved their applications for transfer.

            The Board had earlier met to approve the transfers of the first three Negroes to enroll, all seniors.

            The five Negroes who were not enrolled were sophomores and juniors.

            School officials here, who had been holding meetings several times during August with officials of the Congress of Racial Equality from Tulsa and Sand Springs said that a plan for integration of the school had been agreed upon at the meetings. The plan was for approval of seniors’ transfers this year, with the addition of transfers from the junior and sophomore classes in the next two years.

            Applications of the Negro sophomore and junior students will be considered by the Board of Education at a forthcoming meeting.

            Clyde Boyd, Superintendent of Schools, said that Thursday morning he received a call from James Russell, 19, a white member of C.O.R.E., who said he wanted more Negro students enrolled and would stage a march to CPHS to force the enrollment of some Negro junior and sophomore students there. Three Negro students were already enrolled at CPHS at that time. James Russell lives at 612 McKinley, Sand Springs. He reportedly has attended college at OU and plans to attend college in Wisconsin this fall. He had been employed by a Sand Springs firm earlier this summer.

            The five Negro sophomores and juniors arrived at CPHS Friday morning by car, rather than marching, and were advised they could not enroll until their applications for transfer were received by the CPHS principal.

            Russell, along with the Rev. K.E. Ray, Negro pastor of the First Baptist Church here, filed a complaint with U.S. Dist. Atty. John M. Imel in Tulsa Friday morning after the attempted enrollment. The Rev. Ray recently moved here from Kansas City, Mo.

            Dist. Atty. Imel said he advised the group that a formal complaint would be investigated by his office and reported to the Attorney General, who would decide what action, if any, the Department of Justice would take.

            Ed Goodwin, Jr., accompanying Russell, charged that Booker T. Washington school did not have a gymnasium and swimming pool, as did CPHS, which apparently was an oversight, since Booker T. school does have a gymnasium, and had a swimming pool for many years before the pool was built at CPHS.

            President of the Tulsa C.O.R.E. chapter, Milton T. Goodwin, said the move by Russell was not a C.O.R.E. sponsored project, and said he further understood that the plan for integration in Sand Springs had been agreed upon in the meetings during August and could see no reason to seek changes in the plan.

E.L. Goodwin Jr., “Sand Springs School Board Rejects Then Accepts High School Students: Decision Follows Protest Filed with U.S. Dist. Atty.,” Oklahoma Eagle (Tulsa), August 27, 1964.

Another segregation barrier in school integration was removed Monday by the Sand Springs School Board with the announcement that at least ten Negroes will be admitted to the Charles Page High School on opening date, Aug. 31.

The announcement came upon threats of civil rights protests to U.S. District Attorney John Imel, Friday of last week by parents of the students, who were denied enrollment privileges in the sophomore and junior classes.

Led by Rev. K.E. Ray, pastor of First Baptist Church, Sand Springs and CORE members James Russell and Eugene Freeman the group sought legal recourse following their rebuttal by Sand Springs High School officials.

May End Legal Move

Wednesday, Imel said the move by the school board to accept the Negroes in all high school grade levels appears to have ended action on the Federal Civil Rights Complaint. If sanctioned as legitimate by U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the protest could lead to a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of the Sand Springs School System and segregation.

Previously, following several meetings with Negro Citizens of the community, with Marques Haynes of Harlem Magician fame serving as spokesman, rejected a proposal of redistricting and desegregating all schools, but agreed to accepting all seniors from Booker T. Washington automatically this year, juniors next year, and sophomores in 1966.

10 to Enroll

There were approximately 18 seniors at Washington but only four sought transfers to Page. Six undergraduates were accepted Monday under a policy of permitting such transfers if space permitted.

Ed Dubie, spokesman for the School Board said there is a space problem at Page High School which he believes will be alleviated in three years.

Dubie said, “Three years from now the board will automatically accept all senior high students desiring to transfer from Washington.”

Inadequate Space

He added, “Although we have a one million dollar facility at Charles Page, it took three bond issues to do that and we are still building. We will have to take our shop students to the junior high this year. We don’t have all the space we would like to have.”

To avoid misunderstanding Dubie said certified letters will be mailed to parents of Negro students notifying them of transfer acceptance and date and time to enroll.

The protest here was believed to be the first lodge in Oklahoma under the recently passed new civil rights law.

To Test Junior High

Rev. Ray told the Eagle that at least two young Negroes will seek admittance to the Sand Springs junior high school this year.

Among the senior seeking admission to Page High are: Vicki Westbrook, Dolly Chambers, and Cortez Johnson. Sophomores are Douglas Westbrook, Marcia Carroll, Lecoy Stewart, Keith Robinson, and Betty Towns. The lone junior is Calvin Long.

Parents of the sophomores and juniors to be extended congratulations are Mr. and Mrs. .J.D. Westbrook, Mrs. Alma Carroll, Mrs. Ray Jean Smith, Mrs. Vernell Grant, Mrs. Corella Long and Mr. And Mrs. C.P. Towns.

Congratulations Extended

Inadvertently we stated Mrs. Bessie May Zachary is a member of the Civic Community Club. We later learned she is an interested teacher at Booker T. Washington.

The leaders of the desegregation movement, Rev. Ray, Mr. Russell and Mr. Haynes are to be congratulated for their forthright stand, along with the members of the Sand Springs School Board who recognized the evil of segregation and sought to change the system through negotiation.

“Six More Negro Students Approved to Attend CPHS,” Sand Springs Leader, August 27, 1964.

Applications for a total of nine Negro students have been approved by the Board of Education for transfer from Booker T. Washington school to Charles Page high school.

Three senior students from Booker T. Washington, out of four seniors who filed applications for transfer to Page high school, have elected to enroll at Page for the 1964-65 school year, according to Ed Dubie, clerk of the Board of Education.  Washington had 19 seniors listed on school rolls.

In addition, one junior and five sophomores have filled applications for transfer to attend Charles Page, he reported.  Approval of these applications came at the Monday, August 24, meeting of the Sand Springs Board of Education.

Guardians for the approved students have been notified that the transferees may complete their enrollment at Charles Page high school from 2 to 3 p.m., Friday, August 28, under supervision of John Beck, principal. Speaking for the board, Dubie pointed out that all requests for Application for Transfer from Booker T. Washington for the 1964-65 school year are closed. “This action has been taken by the board of education,” Dubie explained, “because the beginning of classroom instruction is set for August 31. Consequently,” he added, “all students need to be enrolled at this time in order that the schools may be in full operation by this date.”




James W. Russell, “Marques Haynes Gave Civil Rights Movement a Dunk Shot,” The Chronicle (Willimantic, CT), December 7, 1992

Marques Haynes and the Harlem Magicians are coming to town. I’ve already bought my ticket.

I last saw Marques Haynes, “the world’s greatest dribbler,” 28 years ago in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. I had first known who he was when, as a 9-year-old, I had watched the movie Go Man Go about the Harlem Globetrotters. What I remember from the movie is that watching him move the ball was more interesting than the actual scoring.

He sort of break-danced and dribbled at the same time. In a game where height usually counts the most, he was a skilled dancer and juggler, bouncing the ball behind his back and through opponents’ legs, always causing consternation and hilarity.

He later broke away from the Globetrotters and started his own comedy basketball team, the Magicians.

The first time I saw him in person was when he and the Magicians played at my high school in Tulsa. He was from Sand Springs, a nearby small town which is probably why our high school got the treat of a visit from the Magicians. I remember writing a story for the school newspaper about the game.

Two years later, my family moved to Sand Springs. This was 1964, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, and Sand Springs was a typical small town in the border South with a lot of the problems that racism had bred.

Its schools were strictly segregated. All of the black students from kindergarten through 12th grade went to one school, the school from which Marques Haynes had graduated. It had been built in 1898 and easily showed its age. Meanwhile, white students went to elementary school, junior high school and senior high school in separate, modern buildings. More importantly, the white schools offered a much greater variety of courses than did the black school.

That summer, the Tulsa branch of the Congress of Racial Equality was celebrating the passing of the Civil Rights Bill and the subsequent dismissal of charges against all of its members, myself included, who had been arrested in restaurant sit-ins.

As it next project, CORE took on the desegregation of the Sand Springs school system. Our organizing committee went from house to house in the town’s black community discussing the importance of ending discrimination in education. We encountered support from a number of parents and opposition from some teachers, who feared that they would lose their jobs if the schools were desegregated.

The organizing drive culminated in an open meeting for the whole black community. The church where it was held was packed. Person after person got up to address whether it was desirable to take on the school system. The balance of opinion was in favor, but there was reluctance and fear, too. A number of parents worried about how their children would be treated in a white school.

At this point, a well-dressed young black man stood up with a prepared statement. (Several people whispered that he had been sent by members of the all-white school board.) He argued that it was foolish to end the black school because it had graduated so many fine students who had gone on to great success, the most prominent having been Marques Haynes.

As he finished, a man shouted from the back of the church that he wanted to speak. “I am Marques Haynes. It is true that I have been successful, but that is because I have a very unusual talent. I never wanted to become a basketball player. I was forced to.

“When I went to high school, I really wanted to become a printer. But I couldn’t because there was no printing program in this school while there was one in the white school. If we want our children to have the most opportunities in life, they have to be able to go to decent schools.”

Marques Haynes had ended the debate with a dunk shot. A number of parents then came forward, announcing that their children would attempt to enroll in the white schools.

When the white school authorities refused to admit them, CORE filed a complaint with the federal Justice Department. With new enforcement powers from the Civil Rights Act, the Justice Department obliged the school board to integrate the system.

All of this was a minor footnote in the history of the civil rights movement—the New York Times reported the filing of the complaint to the Justice Department in a one-inch filler story.

Twenty-eight years later, though, Marques Haynes is still prominently playing basketball and sinking a lot of shots. Twenty-eight years later, I’m not sure whether I can still play basketball, and I was a kid when he was already famous as an adult player.

James W. Russell is associate professor of sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University. Marques Haynes and the Harlem Magicians will be playing an exhibition game against the Windham CWE All Stars at Windham High School at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13. The game will be a benefit for Willimantic Midget Football. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door.

Guerin Emig: The story of Marques Haynes’ assist with Sand Springs’ school integration

Tulsa World

February 26, 2021

Marques Haynes is one of Oklahoma’s famed basketball players and one of Sand Springs’ favorite sons.

One August night in 1964, members of Sand Springs’ African American community packed their First Baptist Church to decide whether to push for school desegregation. The status quo crowd, fearing job loss, personal retribution and other fallout from institutional change, noted that Marques Haynes had done just fine moving from the town’s all-Black Booker T. Washington High School to basketball fame with the Harlem Globetrotters.

There came a voice from the back of the church: “I want to speak!”

“He walks forward and says, ‘I’m Marques Haynes,'” recalls James Russell, who helped organize the meeting as a member of the Congress of Racial Equality. “It’s true I’ve been successful because I have a very unusual talent. But I never wanted to be a basketball player. I wanted to be a printer. Our school didn’t have a printing program, whereas the white school did.”

It was a call for equal access to equal educational resources.

“Marques won the argument immediately,” Russell says.

We know Haynes as one of Oklahoma’s basketball pioneers and Sand Springs’ favorite sons. A legendary ball handler with a soft soul.

Here’s a story that hints at another dimension, the tale of Haynes’ supporting role in the integration of Sand Springs’ Charles Page High School 10 years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling determined school segregation unconstitutional.

CORE had already undertaken the cause in the summer of ’64, but Russell contends that Haynes’ testimonial that night at First Baptist influenced African American sentiment in the community. That strengthened CORE’s position.

From the church gathering it was on to the Sand Springs school board meeting.

“Marques was going to be their spokesman,” says Kenneth Ray Jr., son of Kenneth Ray Sr., the First Baptist pastor who allowed CORE and Sand Springs’ Black community to meet at his church in 1964. “They selected him because of his stature. He couldn’t really get fired from his job with the Harlem Magicians (Haynes’ barnstorming team at that particular time).”

“A couple nights later we went to the school board meeting,” says Russell, who joined Tulsa’s CORE chapter as a 19-year-old Rogers High School graduate and University of Oklahoma student, and who is now a public policy author and Portland State University professor. “The head of the board looks up and says, ˜What is this, a sit-in or something?'”

“Marques says, ‘No, it’s not a sit-in. We’ve come because we want our children to be able to go to Charles Page High School.”

According to E.L. Goodwin Jr.’s Oklahoma Eagle story at the time, Haynes read a proposal calling for the integration of Sand Springs’ Booker T. Washington sophomores, juniors and seniors into Charles Page.

“The Board consented to integrating the senior class at Washington consisting of 18 students and at least five in the 10th and 11th grades,” Goodwin reported.

Integration would be more gradual than the Black community requested. Board resistance lingered.

“They were dragging their feet,” says Mayme Crawford, whose mother and aunt joined the integration push after she graduated from Sand Springs Booker T. Washington in 1958.

“We went to the U.S Attorney’s Office and filed the first complaints in Oklahoma under the new Civil Rights Act,” Russell says.

It was a strenuous process, but Charles Page did integrate.

“My siblings welcomed the opportunity,” Crawford says. “I had several who were part of the integration.”

“I went to Charles Page from Booker T. Washington as a senior,” says Cortez Johnson, who became part of Charles Page’s first integrated graduating class in 1965. “I enjoyed it immensely. I made the wrestling team. There was a guy named John Neal, who was a junior when I was a senior. He was my wrestling partner. He took state.”

There were African Americans on Charles Page’s 1966 state championship football team. One, Ronnie Knight, became Brigham Young University’s first Black player.

Forrest Crawford, Mayme’s brother, played football for the Sandites before graduating in 1970.

“My experience most definitely served me well,” he says. “It was in part because of my older siblings who were exemplars in their ability to navigate the predominantly white school. They set an example.”

Dr. Forrest Crawford is a Weber State University professor whose activism on behalf of racial and social justice, and subsequent impact on his home state of Utah, is profound. He was inducted into the Sandite Hall of Fame in 2006.

Haynes was a member of the inaugural Sandite Hall of Fame Class of 1990. His HOF bio highlights his career with the Globetrotters and Magicians, understandably.

We should take deeper measure of the man given what happened in the summer of 1964.

The families in Sand Springs’ African American community will always be the frontline heroes of the town’s school desegregation effort. CORE’s institutional role was immense.

As for the assist from the famed basketball player…

“I and two Black members of CORE, Eugene Freeman and Bobby Brown, met at my house in Sand Springs and then went over to the Black community and started knocking on doors to see if people were interested in integrating the schools,” Russell says. “We went out to Buford Colony. They said they were interested and we told them about the community meeting at the church. They said, ˜You ought to go talk to Mr. Haynes.” He had a house there.

“We went over and knocked on the door. No one was home. We left a flier about the meeting with a note asking whether he’d be interested.”

Mr. Haynes was apparently quite interested.

“Many years later I ran into Marques in Connecticut,” Russell says. “When I told him who I was, a big smile came over his face. He said that was one of the proudest things he had done.”

Randy Hopkins, “Sand Springs High School Honors Pioneer Black Alums,” Oklahoma Eagle, June 17, 2022.

History echoed dramatically at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs on Saturday, June 18th. The occasion was the formal dedication of a bronze plaque honoring nine “historical pioneers” who desegregated the school in August 1964. They had previously attended Sand Springs’ Booker T. Washington school, which had an all-Black student body and housed all twelve grades in one building. The physical distance between the two schools was small, but the degree of separation was vast.

The hour-long formal dedication and honoring ceremony in the school’s cafeteria was a moving affair. The President of the 1965 Class, Bob Lemons, served as master of ceremonies. Over 100 people attended and listened with rapt attention to four speakers. They painted emotional pictures of how things were “back then” and of the heroism involved nearly fi fty-eight years ago.

The nine pioneers were Dollie Chambers, Cortez Johnson, Marcia Jones, Calvin Long, Keith Robinson, Marvin Stewart, Betty Towns, Douglas Westbrook and Vicki Westbrook. Only five survive. The plaque is a gift of the school’s Classes of 1965, 1966 and 1967.

Recalling the early fight for integration

The first of the special honorees was James “Jim” Russell. Born in New York, Jim was only nineteen years old in 1964, yet he helped spearhead the push for the desegregation. This occurred ten long years after the U. S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision began the demolition of “separate but equal.” Seemingly born into the civil rights movement, Jim was a member of CORE — the Congress of Racial Equality — in 1964. He became aware of the situation in Sand Springs while visiting his mother, who was employed on the Keystone Dam project. Springing into action, he combined with famed Sand Springs legend and basketball player Marques Haynes and others such as Rev. Kenneth Ray to approach the Sand Springs Board of Education.

The Board resisted. The Superintendent issued unveiled threats that “there would be violence” and that Blacks weren’t smart enough to “make it.” A formal civil rights complaint was filed with the U. S. Attorney’s office and the Board grudgingly allowed nine students to transfer. Full integration was not to occur until the 1966-67 school year, when “Booker T” was finally closed.

Threats of violence and other harassments forced Russell’s mother to move from Sand Springs. Yet, he stood firm. And he continues the battle for civil rights to this day. Russell’s living example proves that mere youth is no sure impediment to forcing positive change in the world.

Emotional memories highlighted the evening

The next speaker was Kenneth E. Ray, Jr., son of Rev. Ray who played a vital role in the community of the “Southside Addition” and who was a strong supporter of the desegregation drive. Ray told the hushed audience that, “I’m just proud today to represent him,” Ray told the hushed audience. “I believe that there’s a heaven, and I think that he’s here with us in spirit. So I want to say to him in spirit, ‘Daddy, you did good.’”

Betty Towns Jackson, one of the original pioneers rose to the podium next. The reality of August 1964 emerged through her words. She explained that she was scared that first day, not knowing what to expect, but fearing the worst. Happily, the “worst” did not occur and “the fear soon diminished,” she said. While members of her family looked on with pride, Betty explained her memory of the historic day.

“I never thought when I walked up those steps almost 58 years ago that I would be a part of history and honored at this special ceremony, I’m grateful to be recognized as a part of the history of civil rights in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and I’m happy that each student can view the plaque and learn about Charles Page High’s role in American history.”

The final speaker was the charismatic Calvin Long. He made a big splash at Charles Page. Long was a junior when he transferred and quickly became a member of the basketball team. He was a popular student, winning the support on his teammates. He was named Student of the Month in his senior year. He told of an incident where the team attempted to enter a restaurant at an away game. “Everybody else could enter,” the restaurant manager said, except for Long. The team did not dine there.

Long had not planned to attend college, but his high school coach encouraged him and arranged a try out at the junior college in Tonkawa. Long also thanked the “community of helpers” who helped mold his life. “When I think about what we went through, I just wish my mom was here to see this,” he said. “I wish Mr. Westbrook was here to see this. I wish Rev. Ray was here to see this. I wish Marques Haynes was here to see this. They made all the same sacrifices that we did,” he said. “They really stepped up for us.”

It became clear during the ceremony that the Original Nine did not just face the unknown dangers presented from the white community of Sand Springs, but resistance inside the city’s Southside Addition. As Long explained, the Black neighborhood was “hemmed in” and physically isolated from the city around it. This segregation created a close-knit community, one which sometimes reacted with resentment to the Nine who were now seen to be “different.” The teachers at Booker T. Washington expressed fears — later confirmed — that they would lose their jobs if “integration” took place. So, the courage shown by the Pioneers had to be doubled.

Sadly, scheduled panelist and living honoree Cortez Johnson could not attend. Also, John Neal, a frequent contributor to the Oklahoma Eagle and one of the principal organizers of the campaign to honor the heroes, was also unable to attend. Johnson and Neal were teammates on the school’s wrestling team, as well as friends. They were sorely missed.

The organizing committee for the plaque and honoring was a collaborative effort involving those of both races. Afterward, Cal Long wrote that, “he was still floating on air after the auspicious event.” The desegregation of 1964 and its honoring offer far more than small hope that endless racial divisions will not rule the future.

RANDY HOPKINS was born in Tulsa and raised in Sand Springs. A graduate of Charles Page High School, Oklahoma State University and the University of Texas School of Law. A longtime civil trial lawyer in Houston, Texas, he now resides in Portland, Oregon. He is an accomplished researcher and writer of Tulsa and Oklahoma history. Hopkins Tulsa history essays are online at www.centerforpublicsecrets. org/the-trail-of-atrocity

Appendix: Tulsa Civil Rights Sit-in Movement Chronology (1963-1964)


May:  NAACP Youth Council members pass petitions in North Tulsa calling for an ordinance: 1. That racial segregation and discrimination are against the public policy of the City of Tulsa; 2. That all persons within the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation of Tulsa shall be entitled to the full accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, restaurants, eating houses, hotels and all other businesses that have a commodity as service for purchase and consumption on the premises and 3. That a commission will be created with power and authority to make rules and regulations necessary for the administration and enforcement of the ordinance, including the assessment and collection of fines for violation of the ordinance as provided by law.

July:  NAACP Youth Council black and white supporters of proposed ordinance survey Tulsa restaurants, motels, and hotels to document existence of refusal of service. Find that 54 of 127 restaurants have discriminatory policies and 26 motels and hotels practiced discrimination.

July 11:  City Attorney Charles E. Norman delivers opinion that the City of Tulsa has the right to adopt an ordinance prohibiting racial discrimination in public accommodations.

July 19:  Rev. Jack Batten, president of the Tulsa Council of Churches, presents petition for public accommodations ordinance with 8,600 signatures to the City Commission of Tulsa. 

Borden’s places petitions in opposition to proposed public accommodations ordinance in all of their segregated restaurants.

September:  Call for boycott of University of Tulsa cafeteria that is catered by Borden’s.   Borden’s served blacks at TU but not in other restaurants in its chain.

October:  Borden’s reacts to boycott threat by withdrawing from TU.  Boycott is called off.

October 12:  Community Relations Commission on 5-1 vote approves 43-page public accommodations ordinances and forwards it to the City Commission for final approval.

November 14:  As of that date Community Relations Commission had received 201 letters supporting and 70 opposing the proposed ordinance.

December 5:  Over 300 black and white citizens pack public hearing on public accommodations ordinance before the City Commission.

December 12:  Second public hearing on public accommodations ordinance before the City Commission.

December 24:  City Commission rejects ordinance outlawing discrimination, instead passes resolution favoring integration of facilities.  Adopts an ordinance allowing Community Relations Commission to hear complaints of discrimination.

[It seems that the NAACP adopts posture of going along with this as a stepping stone toward an eventual ordinance.  That is, if discrimination continues, the city will be forced to adopt an ordinance outlawing it.  I suspect that this is what causes the organization of CORE, which will seek to force the issue with sit-ins.  Milton Goodwin, first president of CORE, was an NAACP member.  On the other hand, Clara Luper from the Oklahoma City NAACP was a clear advocate of the more militant tactics.  This needs clarification.]


Late January:  As a result of the refusal of the City Commission to adopt the anti-discrimination ordinance, weekly meetings begin in North Tulsa to form a new civil rights organization.  The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is chosen.

March:  The officers of CORE are elected:  Milton T. Goodwin, president; Alonzo Batson, vice-president; Faye Small, secretary; and Cleothas L. Robinson, treasurer.  CORE has 50 members and meets at the Vernon AME Faith Hall.

March:  NAACP Youth Council and Student Committee for Human Rights plan Freedom March through downtown Tulsa to Boulder Park for March 30, the day after Easter.  Speakers at rally at Boulder Park to include:  Clara Luper, Father Brosseaue; Pastor Karl Thiele, Rev. Ben H. Hill, and Cecelia Palmer

March 30 (morning):  400 march through downtown Tulsa; joined by contingent from Oklahoma City led by Clara Luper.

March 30 (afternoon):  After march, first sit-in at Borden’s Cafeteria in Northland Shopping Center. 19 adults and 20 juveniles arrested.  Of the 19 adults, 14 were black and 5 white; of the blacks, 8 were male and 6 female; of the whites, 3 were male and 2 female.

April 1 (evening):  CORE stages second sit-in, two days after the first, at Apache Circle Restaurant.  54 arrested.  200 neighborhood black youth jeer at arresting officers and are dispersed.

April 4:  CORE stages simultaneous sit-ins at Piccadilly Restaurant in downtown Tulsa, Apache Circle Restaurant, and Borden’s Cafeteria at 5113 South Peoria.  54 arrested.

April 6:  CORE pickets Borden’s Cafeteria in Northland Shopping Center at event for candidates for election.

April 11 and 15:  CORE pickets Northside State Bank, which is directed by Robert J. Pleasant, the owner of the Apache Circle Restaurant.

April:  CORE stages sit-in at Borden’s Cafeteria in Northland Shopping Center. 34 arrested.

April:  District Judge Raymond Graham issues restraining order against sit-in leaders.  Sit-ins are halted.

April:  Community Relations Committee hears complaints of discrimination.

April:  1500 attend Dick Gregory Freedom Rally

June:  Oklahoma City passes ordinance outlawing discrimination

June 30:  Tulsa City Commission by 4-1 vote passes ordinance outlawing discrimination.  CORE objects that ordinance is not strong enough

July 2: Federal Civil Rights Act enacted.  Title II outlaws discrimination in public accommodations.

July:  CORE committee (Bobby G. Brown, Eugene Freeman, Jim Russell) begins campaign to integrate Sand Springs public schools.  400 black students from kindergarten to high school are crowded into a building built in 1898.  White students attend separate elementary, junior high school, and an ultramodern high school.

August 3:  Tulsa anti-discrimination ordinance takes effect

August 3:  First meeting with Sand Springs School Board.  Ed Dubie, the school board president, seeing the black parents present, refused to discuss the problem stating, “I will not be pressured by a sit-in or whatever this is.” The board president, a Mr. Pafford, put off discussion of the issue for one week until they could have their lawyer present.

August 8:  CORE organizes community meeting attended by about 40 parents and teachers at church in Sand Springs black community.  Basketball star and Sand Springs resident Marques Haynes attends the meeting.  He is unanimously elected to be their spokesperson.

August 10:  Marques Haynes presents integration proposal to Sand Springs School Board.  School Board rejects proposal.

August 21:  Sand Springs parents, accompanied by CORE members, file Federal Civil Rights complaint with U.S. Attorney John Immel.  If acted on by U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, it will result in an FBI investigation of the Sand Springs School System.

August 24:  Sand Springs School Board agrees to allow 10 black students to enroll in Charles Page High School.

August 26:  U.S. Attorney John Immel announces that Sand Springs School Board action will end action on the civil rights complaint.

Compiled by James W. Russell, mainly from Oklahoma Eagle newspaper articles.