This week on Senior Voices we meet lifelong Daytonian Andy Heins, who grew up in North Dayton, near Hara Arena and the Salem Mall. He remembers being a student at Meadowdale junior high when the Dayton City Schools were desegregated. Andy talked with Dayton Metro Library volunteer interviewer, Nancy Messer.
Andy Heins: When I grew up in that area of Dayton, it was 100 percent white. When I was in...I believe it was the 7th grade, that’s when the Dayton public school system changed everything around and bussing students. And I can remember this as a kid, I mean all my friends’ parents were in a total uproar, that there’s going to be white kids and black kids at the same school together.
Now the problem, I guess, it was the white kids were not being bussed, all the black kids were being bussed to us, you know, in a totally foreign environment. And so I can remember when that day, first day of school was gonna come. I mean, they were expecting riots, and the parents came to school with the kids, sure you know they could get their kids out of there when the riot broke out. Now my father having been in the military, this wasn’t an upset to him, you know what I’m saying, as compared to other people.
That day came, and I remember, you know, going to school, and of course you know we’re all on the bus talking, “Boy, what’s it gonna, you know, what’s gonna happen, what are we gonna do?"
And we get there, you know and you’re kinda out on the playground where they would let you off there, and here come these busses, and everybody’s kind’ve gathered around. Well you know, they were just as nervous as we were about this whole thing. Well, it was a nothing. Nothing happened. And so that started the mixing in Dayton.
I believe this was actually my 8th grade year when it first started, and at that time, Meadowdale was probably, oh maybe like 60-40, 60 percent white and 40 percent black. By the time I graduated, it was probably maybe the other way, 60 percent black, 40 percent white. Now, my neighborhood where I grew up is probably 80 to 90 percent black.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer Dave Barber. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation. Jocelyn Robinson coordinated this series as part of Community Voices.