Orlando Camp Speaks to Milford Legislators

“Fifty years ago, I could not have stood at this podium. I would not have been allowed in this building,” said Orlando J. Camp, who delivered the featured remarks at a recent event (2/2) at the Delaware Public Archives marking the start of African-American History Month.

Mr. Camp, the author of new book “The Milford Eleven,” was one of eleven 10th grade students that were involved in an abortive effort to desegregate Milford High School in 1954.

The attempted integration was in reaction to the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down earlier the same year (Brown v. the Board of Education) finding it unconstitutional to maintain racially segregated schools.

State Reps. Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) and Jack Peterman (R-Milford) said they remember that historic day well. Rep. Kenton, who was a 7th grade student in Milford at the time, and Rep. Peterman, who was a 6th grader, were among a handful of white children whose families did not take part in a boycott protesting the arrival of the African-American students.

Ultimately, Milford proved unready to join those schools that successfully integrated. Under rising tensions and threats of violence, the African-American students were withdrawn from the school after attending for less than a month.

Mr. Camp said in contrast to similar instances elsewhere in the country, the situation in Milford never captured national attention. “Those 28 days we went to the white high school were buried here in the archives,” he said, explaining his motivation for writing the book.

The Milford Eleven is published by Cedar Tree Books and can be found at: www.cedartreebooks.com.

In photo, from left: Orlando Camp, author of The Milford Eleven, speaks to State Reps. Don Blakey, Harvey Kenton and Jack Peterman following a Black History Month event at the Public Archives Building on 2/2/12.

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