The Scarboro 85 Monument Committee is working to raise the $2.9 million needed to build the civil rights monument honoring the 85 Black students who desegregated Oak Ridge High School and Robertsville Junior High School in the fall of 1955. The students are known as the Scarboro 85 (also called the “Oak Ridge 85”) and their actions occurred a year before the Clinton 12 students attended classes to further integrate public schools in the South.
“This will be one of the top civil rights monuments in the nation,” said Coach John Spratling, Chairman of the Monument Committee. “Black history museums are immensely popular. We expect the Scarboro 85 monument to attract tens of thousands of visitors to the East Tennessee economy.”
The Scarboro 85 Memorial Committee released a plan, showing where they plan on getting the necessary funding to bring the civil rights monument to life. They shared that they plan to get 43% of the budget from the state government, 26% from the federal government, and 12% from universities and local sports organizations. The committee has received interest from professional sports organizations due to Scarboro’s pioneering role in opening Southeastern public school and university sports.
The monument has been a work in progress for years. The plan for the monument includes large columns, pillars of courage and a central plaza of healing. The site will also feature “state-of-the-art” interactive history displays, according to the committee. It will be located in A.K. Bissell Park in the center of Oak Ridge next to the Civic Center.
“This game-changing civil rights achievement reflects the amazing things America can accomplish when we work together,” said Dr. Martin McBride, Co-Chair of the 65th Scarboro 85 Anniversary Celebration in 2020.
If you like to help with the construction, you can donate at Scarboro85monument.com. On the website, you can see all the designs of the monument and find stories about the 85 students.