HEIDELBERG, Miss. (WDAM) - Two changemakers who helped make Heidelberg the town it is today continue to have an impact in the community. David and Roy Taylor shared their story as members of the Heidelberg Seven.
“You think about what we had foreseen in ’63, ’64 and ’65, well it hadn’t ended in 1966,” David recalled. “So the climate was pretty high as far as racial tension goes.”
1966 is the year David and his brother Roy became two of the first seven Black students to attend Heidelberg High School.
“All I knew was were going to a different school that day,” Roy said. “All I knew was that our parents and some other parents got together and decided they were going to send their children to an all-white school.”
David echoed his brother’s thoughts.
“I was too young to be scared,” David said. “I really, at that age in the sixth grade, did not know the dynamics and the impacts of our actions, and so I was just doing what my parents told me to do. That was I would be going to Heidelberg High.”
The brothers say with a supportive community behind them, they didn’t know what to expect.
“After all the village of love and acceptance, when I got to Heidelberg High I ran into a wall of racism,” David said. “And it hit hard.”
They say it was difficult.
“The heroes were our parents,” David said. “When our parents saw us off to school that morning, they didn’t know if they would ever see us alive again.”
“Our uncles and things had to come to our house at night and spend the night,” Roy said. “But they were protecting us because we had just integrated an all-white school and they didn’t know if they were going to come to our house and try to retaliate.”
David told WDAM their efforts were worth it as they saw the community change.
“So we continued each year to get more Black students to come Heidelberg High,” David said. “So that was better support for us, and we knew that we were there to stay.”
And continued to change for the better to this day.
“I ended up teaching at Heidelberg High. Teaching history,” David said. “And I was able to show them the dynamics of racism because it took us 16 years after Brown vs. Board of Education that we were able to integrate in Mississippi in 1970. So we were there three years before full integration started and it was a challenge. But looking at it today, I wouldn’t take anything for it. I would do it again because we are here to make things better.”
The Taylor family continues to work on bettering and growing the community. The next generation, Tamia and Dietrich Taylor, to name a couple, are business owners working to revitalize downtown Heidelberg. They’re following in the change-making footsteps of their family before them.
All of the Heidelberg Seven are still alive and both Taylor men still live in Heidelberg and are active members of the community.