St. Andrew’s celebrates first-ever African American student admitted in 1967

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson native De’Priest Dockins was in first grade at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School when he made history as the first black student to integrate into the school in 1967.

“When they actually started talking about integrating the school, they really could not know how the community was going to respond, but in my heart, I felt like they followed their heart and they followed their faith,” he said.

Dockins’ parents made up in their minds that in 1967, they wanted to create a better life for their son in the segregated south.

“Well my parents weren’t really focused on integration, they were really focused on trying to get me a really solid foundation,” Dockins said.

More than fifty-six years ago, Dockins says St. Andrews Episcopal School was looking to recruit African Americans, and his parents answered the call. He successfully enrolled.

“I remember trying to get settled because it was my first year in school and being the only black kid in the school was a bit of an adjustment for me,” Dockins said.

As a first grader, he recounts normal and positive interactions with his fellow classmates and teachers, even meeting his best friend at St. Andrew’s.

“I don’t remember anything negative, you know it may just be that those things weren’t terribly important to me, but I remember most things that were positive,” Dockins said.

Dockins parents eventually had to withdraw him from the school after his fourth-grade year because of financial issues.

He says leaving the school was heartbreaking. Still, Dockins is honored to have opened the door for future African American students.

“Honestly is sort of overwhelming. It really does give me a lot of joy to see the progress that the school has made. It’s just beautiful to see the changes that has taken place here at the school, it just makes me so happy,” he said.

Dockins is currently an IT Specialist at the University of Michigan. He credits much of his success to his parents and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.

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