Civil Rights Leader speaks about desegregating schools in Ala. - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Civil Rights Leader speaks about desegregating schools in Ala.

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Civil rights leader Dr. Sonnie Hereford III, who shattered racial barriers in Huntsville, Ala. beginning in the 1950s and 60s, traveled to La Crosse Friday to talk about his experiences.

Hereford is a medical doctor. After receiving his degree, he was one of the only African American physicians in Huntsville at the time.

He is also commended for his role in education.

Dr. Hereford won a lawsuit allowing him to enroll his son, Sonnie IV, in an all-white elementary school in Huntsville.

That first week of school, Hereford and his son were met by an angry mob, not allowing them to pass through the school doors.

Although he can't prove it happened, Hereford said white citizens met with the governor, asking him to allowing African Americans into the schools.

"I don't know if that's true or not, Hereford said. "But I know that when we went Monday morning, the school was wide open. No mob, no highway patrolman or anything. We walked into school, unobstructed, at 8:30 Monday morning, September the 9th, 1963. And that was the first time that black kids and white kids had ever been in the same school in the state of Alabama."

Hereford spoke at Viterbo University Friday afternoon.

He will speak about civil rights on the UW-L campus Saturday.

Monday he travels to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. to speak with doctors there.

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