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Smith went on to become the first black Teacher of the Year in the county and the first black principal in the county (South- side Elementary for 12 years) before re- tiring; her last post was at a school in Venice. Dr. Edward James, a longtime commu- nity activist, said of the forced busing, "We didn't ask to come; we were forced to come [to other schools]." James is a recent recipient of the NAACP's President's Award. He has hosted and produced Black Almanac on ABC7 for 38 years. Lou Ann Palmer, longtime city commis- sioner, mayor and teacher, added, "The black kids were scared, and so were the white kids." While all four speakers said it in differ- ent ways, with different emphasis, they seemed to agree that the busing program was not handled well. "When the mandate came down, a bound- ary line was established, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way was the boundary line," Mason said. "Those students living north of the boundary were assigned to Riverview High School; those students living south of the line were assigned to Sarasota High School. Kids who had bonded and formed lifelong relationships were separated. I am still upset by the way it was done," she added. "Both black and white students should have been pre- pared. While on paper this achieved the balance the government was seeking, it was traumatic in that black and white students were just thrown together." The sign for Pioneer Park marks the spot for two of the community's historic buildings. Photo by Scott Proffitt

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