Hoxie: The First Stand

The University of Memphis

Hoxie: The First Stand presents the story of a small Arkansas town whose school board chose to integrate its classrooms in the summer of 1955. In the previous year, the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Rather than fight the decision, rather than taking a stand against integration, the Hoxie school board made their radical decision simply because “it was the right thing to do.” When Life magazine published a feature story on Hoxie, however, white supremacists and politicians attacked their position. Even though their effort was threatened by legal battles and violence, the board refused to back down. Because Hoxie was one of the first schools in the south to open its public schools to all its citizens, the town’s commitment drew a very reluctant United States Department of Justice into the legal battles for civil rights. Remarkably, this story has been all but overlooked, even by historians of the Civil Rights Movement. But it has not been forgotten by those who lived through it. Producer, writer, director David Appleby with associate producer Allison Graham, gives voice to many of them—the citizens of Hoxie, black and white, who offer their accounts of those troubled times. For discovering and presenting a story of remarkable bravery lived in a time of conflict and a context of violence, a Peabody Award goes to Hoxie: The First Stand.