Kent Merritt headshot

Kent Merritt

Lane High School

That was to appease the discontent of not having any Black people in positions of leadership.  

Phyllis Leffler:  To appease the discontent of students or —

Kent Merritt:  Of Black students.  Yeah.  I had no expectation of being the president.

Phyllis Leffler:  You hadn’t been on student council before.  

Kent Merritt:  No, I hadn’t been on student council before, had not done anything in government or anything like that, and I was nominated, and then I won.  And then I’m there.  

Phyllis Leffler:  Bit of a shock, I’m assuming.  

Kent Merritt:  It was.  Well, I was the president, I think — we had all-Black — well, no.  President, vice president, secretary, treasurer, all three of us were Black except for our treasurer.  One of the positions was a white kid, but all three of us were Black.  

Phyllis Leffler:  That astounds me because we’ve heard so much about students coming in from Burley and the tensions that existed in the school about that.  And then now you’re telling me, by 1969, ’70, three of the class officers are Black kids. 

Kent Merritt:  That’s right.  Now, I will say this.  All three of us integrated in elementary school, so we were known by Black and white kids.  No one came over from Burley that was — well, I mean, that didn’t exist because we didn’t have an opportunity to go to Burley, but all three of us went to Johnson and/or Venable early.  So, we knew people, and they knew us.