Norview High School

Historical Significance

Norview High School was one of the six schools in Norfolk attended by members of the "Norfolk 17" in 1958. In the face of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, 151 African American students applied to transfer to white schools in Norfolk. In the end, only 17 were permitted to attend, and they faced intense opposition. Seven of these students attended Norview High School, while the others attended Granby High School, Maury High School, Blair Junior High School, Northside Junior High School, and Norview Junior High School. The "Norfolk 17" were emblematic of African-American students throughout the South who faced inequities in their education and school facilities.

During the spring and summer of 1958, the members of the Norfolk 17 were encouraged by their parents, church members, and local civil rights leaders to join with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its attempt to enforce the Brown decision in Norfolk. At the time, none of the public schools in the city or state had been integrated, and the members of the Norfolk 17 took a great risk when they agreed to participate. By July 25, they had joined with 134 other students in an attempt to transfer from their black schools into the white schools of the city. The Norfolk 17 were required to take a battery of academic and psychological tests overseen by the members of the school board. On August 18, the school board announced that all 151 transfer requests were denied. Yet, after meeting with District Court Judge Walter E. Hoffman, the board reluctantly agree to admit 17 of the 151 applicants to six of the city's all-white secondary schools.

The state legislature then passed legislation that empowered the governor to close any Virginia public school which was "threatened" by integration. On September 29, 1958 six of Norfolk's formerly all-white schools were closed to avoid integration. More than 9,000 white students were kept from school, and the students known as the Norfolk 17 were the targets of intense criticism and public scrutiny. They shared the white students' locked-out status and attended school at the African-American Bute Street Baptist Church during the winter of 1958.

On January 19, 1959, the Virginia State Supreme Court and the Federal District Court declared that the school closings in Norfolk were unconstitutional. Two weeks later, on February 2, 1959, the Norfolk 17 became the first African-American students to attend the previously all-white schools in the largest school district in the state of Virginia.

Physical Description

No Physical Description Available.

Geographical and Contact Information

6501 Chesapeake Blvd.
Norfolk, Virginia
23513
Phone: 757-852-4500
Fax: 757-852-4511

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Norview High School,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed November 22, 2017, http://www.aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/310.

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