‘It was time for us to do something for ourselves’: Former Adkin High School students reflect on anniversary of walkout, Saturday’s celebration

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Saturday is the 70th anniversary of the Adkin High School walkout. in Kinston In 1951, students walked out of the school demanding greater educational resources.  

“At that time, it was law in the southern states that the schools had to be separate,” said Adkin High School Alumni, Delcia Dixon Ward. “But they were supposed to be equal. And we were very much aware that our school was not equal. So we decided we had had enough. And it was time for us to do something for ourselves.” 

Mary Martin Darden and Ward were both a part of the walkout. They graduated from Adkin High School in 1952. The walkout was orchestrated by the senior class at the time, which they were a part of. Prior to the walkout, they had a meeting with the school board, where students presented demands for greater educational resources. 

“When that meeting ended, we knew what we were going to do the next morning. And we walked out,” said Ward.  

And the rest was history. They marched Queen Street carrying signs saying “freedom,” “equal rights” and “education”. A year and a half later, they had a new building, with new classrooms, and the largest gymnasium in the state. 

These students, returning to the school 70 years later, both have this message to share. 

“I think they should realize that there comes a time when you have to stand up for what you believe is the right thing to do. It may not be the popular thing to do. But you have to let people know that they can’t walk all over you,” said Ward. 

What’s left of Adkin High School is still in Kinston along with the legacy of these students. 

“These young people had the fortitude to come up with a plan and to execute that plan and to stick to their values and their beliefs that equal education and opportunities for a better education could be afforded to them,” said Board Secretary on Adkin High School Alumni and Friends, Dr. Rita L. Joyner. 

On Saturday, they will hold a marker dedication commemorating the 70th anniversary at 11 a.m. at 611 E. Washington Ave. in Kinston. It’s at the corner of East Washington Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. 

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