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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 20, 2009
Contact: Bobbie Fisher, Chief Communications Officer, 757.889.9107

Documentary will air on the 50th anniversary of desegregation

Norfolk: WHRO TV15 and 15.1DT will air a one-hour television documentary about the plight of 17 students who desegregated Norfolk City Schools during the racially-charged era of Massive Resistance.  Norfolk 17: Their Story is produced  and hosted by  Lisa Godley.    The Executive Producer is Barbara Hamm Lee.  The program will be broadcast on the 50th anniversary of the day the Norfolk 17 shattered the barriers of segregation – Monday, February 2, 2009, at 9pm (repeating Sunday, February 8 at 4pm) on WHRO TV15 and DT15.1.

Norfolk 17: Their Story, a collaboration of WHRO and The New Journal and Guide, is the latest in a long line of thought-provoking productions from WHRO.

The Norfolk 17 were just teenagers who wanted a chance at a better education.  But in 1959 Norfolk, that was a problem:  African-American students weren’t allowed to go to historically white schools.  The landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision opened the door for them by striking down the doctrine of “separate but equal,” but it still took years of legal wrangling before any of the Norfolk 17 set foot into an integrated classroom.

Then they were intimidated, threatened, cursed and subjected to all manner of racial animosity.  But they persevered…and ultimately graduated from high school, earning a place at the table of better education for the African-American students who came after.

Recently, the Norfolk 17 came together as a group at WHRO to share the heartbreaking, heartwarming stories of their experiences during that horrible time in our history.