Family Focus Resource Center is pleased to host a Celebration of Black History Month featuring author Jo Ann Allen Boyce on February 25 at 6:30pm. You can register for the virtual event here.
Born Jo Ann Crozier Allen in 1941 in the small town of Clinton in East Tennessee, Jo Ann her family lived in a primarily African American community where family, church and school were the foundations of the neighborhood. However, Jim Crow laws were still all too prevalent. In 1954, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Brown v Board of Education case which outlawed school segregation forced the all-white Clinton High School to accept African Americans students. Therefore, in August 1956, twelve African American students, including Jo Ann Allen, met in front of their previous elementary school and held hands as they said a prayer before walking to school down the hill.
Desegregation of Clinton High School was originally met with quiet resignation, however within three to four days chaos ensued. Young people now held up anti-desegregation signs and large crowds gathered. Jo Ann and her fellow Black classmates were accosted by foul, racist epitaphs, rotten food, rocks and sticks whizzed by their heads, spit barely missed their faces. Jo Ann’s parents made the decision to move away from Clinton following this severe breakdown of lawfulness. Jo Ann, her parents, sister and brother arrived in Los Angeles in December 1956. She enrolled in and graduated from Dorsey High School in 1958. Following graduation, she enrolled at Los Angeles City College where she received an AA degree as well as a degree in nursing. Eventually Jo Ann was employed in her “dream job” as a pediatric registered nurse, first with a private pediatrician for ten years followed by a thirty year employment at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles until her retirement.
Jo Ann has been married almost sixty years, is the mother of three adult children and is grandmother of four. She enjoys singing, reading, and collecting stamps/coins. She coauthored a book with renowned children’s books author Debbie Levy entitled “This Promise of Change; One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality,” which was published in January 2019. The book, written in verse for youth 10 years to adult, highlights some of Jo Ann’s life in Clinton with a detailed timeline of school desegregation and biographies of the other members of the Clinton 12 in the back.