Remembering Desegregation Strife At Denver’s George Washington High School

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Photo: Denver George Washington High School Clipping (C/O)
A Denver Post clipping from 1970 shows George Washington High School students and police in a school hallway.

Forty-five years ago this fall, George Washington High School was in turmoil. That's when a court order led to 250 mostly black students living in northeast Denver to attend the school on the city's southeast side.

"The kids being bused in...were not happy about coming to our school," said Maribeth Taylor, a sophomore at George Washington at the time, but who now lives in Fort Collins. "[It was] just a whole different school, a whole different environment."

Taylor contacted CPR News in response to a story by reporter Jenny Brundin earlier this year that described current reform efforts at the high school as it works through the racial divide that has plagued the school over the years.

She was happy to hear about the changes being made at the school, including a retreat this fall where a group of racially-mixed students addressed stereotypes minority groups had of one another. It's a sharp contrast to contrast to 1970, when, the way she remembers it, school officials didn't make any effort to help black and white students adjust to the school's changing demographics.

Along with Taylor, two other George Washington veterans spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about those times: Carl Carwell, who's black, was a 21-year old school counselor at the time; and Ken Toltz, who's white, came to the school in 1972 when he was a sophomore.