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School Memorial Plaque Honors Four Young Girls Who Desegregated Nashville Schools in 1963

December 10, 2023 Plaques

We’ve all seen the pictures of African-American students integrating schools during the tumultuous 1960’s. Too often these pictures feature small, yet brave-faced children walking proudly into their first day of school amid a crowd of protestors.

Here at Impact Signs we were honored when we were contacted by the Stratford STEM Magnet School (formerly Stratford High School) in Nashville, TN to create a school memorial plaque dedicated to the first four students to desegregate the school back in 1963.

It’s not every day that you get to play a part in commemorating an event of such historic importance. It was vital to us to deliver a historical plaque that truly did justice to the brave actions of the four 12-year-old girls – Pamela Franklin, Brenda Harris Haywood, Beverly Page Ward, and Bernadine Price Rabathaly – and the assistant principal – Ronald Jefferson Webb – who championed and defended them during their time at the school. We undertook to honor their legacy with care and sensitivity.

Four students who desegregated Stratford High School in Nashville, TN in 1963

Pictured: Pamela Franklin, Brenda Harris Haywood, Beverly Page Ward, Bernadine Price Rabathaly, and Ronald Jefferson Webb

Our artists worked with the school to create a five individual bas relief sculpted portraits in aluminum.

Bernadine Price Rabathaly bas relief sculpture

These sculpted portraits were placed on a recessed background with a pebble texture painted black. The plaque includes raised lettering and a border in satin aluminum finish.

Stratford HIgh School Desegregation bas relief plaque by

The completed plaque commemorating the four students

“It’s hard to place a value on honoring someone or a group of people and doing it magnificently,” said Shawn Hunt of Stratford High School. “Impact Signs did what I asked of them and they did what they said they would do. The level of their artistry and the quality of their workmanship was superb. The communication with the creative staff and artists was most comforting. Customers do have a their anxious moments and Impact Signs tended well to mine. Bravo!”

Because the school decided to memorialize these brave young women and their assistant principal with a high-quality and long lasting bas relief plaque, passersby will always be reminded of their sacrifice and how their brave steps through a mob of protestors made Nashville history.

You can read more about school desegregation in Nashville here. And more about the specific circumstances the students at Stratford High faced in this Nashville City Council Resolution.

See more pictures of the plaque and the artistic process that went into creating the plaque here, or by following Impact Signs on Instagram.

Bas relief plaques are as durable as the legacies they commemorate. Read here for more about commissioning a bas relief plaque to make a momentous occasion.

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