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For the first three quarters of the twentieth century, in the heart of our nation, there thrived a safe haven which nurtured great aspirations of thousands of African American youth and their families. “The Sumner Story” highlights the history of a segregated high school which became recognized for the stellar academic performance of its students. Highly qualified faculty who believed in the students’ ability to achieve prepared them for a world of competition, hard knocks, compromises and closed doors. The story also denotes and illuminates outstanding career successes of alumni. In a socially and economically segregated nation, black students who had a “Sumner-like” experience were very fortunate because their schools served as clear windows and powerful springboards to promising possibilities. In this regard, nine other segregated high schools are reviewed. Insights can be gained from this story on how to resolve the plight of low-performing schools in socially and economically disadvantaged communities.

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