Data from the Berkeley Unified School District shows the school had 15 black students in 1963 — a year before Harris was born. They represented 3% of the total elementary school student body, while other schools in the district had a black population as high as 97%.
A fierce advocate of integration, Neil Sullivan moved to California 1964 to take over as superintendent. In the subsequent years, a task force reported to him to address the de facto segregation in the community.
In 1967, Sullivan’s team drafted a plan for all elementary schools to have black representation between 35% and 45%. By that time, the district had already desegregated its secondary schools — grades 7 to 12.
Black representation had grown slightly in the early-1960s. By 1967, the district considered its schools to be “partially desegregated,” but still “making progress toward racial integration,” according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The records show one in ten students at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in 1967 were black.
“These schools shall be totally desegregated in September, 1968, and we might make history on that day,” Sullivan said in a May 1967 education board meeting.