May 17, 1954: The U.S. Supreme Court decides in Brown v. Board of Education that the philosophy of "separate but equal" does not apply to public education. In March 1955, the court orders schools across the country to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."

Aug. 16, 1955: The three-member Howard County Board of Education says it will conform to the Supreme Court decision but will not be able to start the process of desegregation that year.

April 19, 1956: School officials discuss a report about how to desegregate county schools, but no decision is made.

May 1, 1956: The school system announces it will begin "voluntary integration" during the 1956-57 school year. The county's six all-black schools will remain open. Under the plan, black children in grades one to five will be allowed to attend white schools. But they have to appear with their parents before the school board to request a transfer. School buses will remain segregated. One grade of black students each subsequent year will be allowed to request transfers to white schools, starting with sixth-graders in 1957 and ending with seniors in 1963.

April 1963: The board approves a "directed integration" program to close Dayton and Highland elementary schools on June 30, 1964, and Fels Lane and Cooksville the following June. White students are scheduled to attend the all-black Harriet Tubman High School in June 1966 after construction of an addition that will make it comparable in size to other county high schools. Guilford Elementary School will be integrated in June 1967.

Oct. 29, 1963: The Interracial Commission of Howard County conducts a special meeting with the school board to request the closure of all segregated schools by June 1964.

April 1964: The school board issues a spirited defense of its timetable for integrating schools and appeals for public support.

May 1, 1964: The school board expands from three to five members. The two new members, Edward L. Cochran and James R. Moxley Jr., push to speed up desegregation.

June 9, 1964: The new school board votes to change the timetable and close four black schools, instead of just two, by the end of the month.

Feb. 9, 1965: The board approves the full integration of Guilford Elementary and decides to close Harriett Tubman High in the summer, instead of expanding it to accommodate white students.

September 1965: Segregation ends as black and white students begin the school year together.

Sources: Howard County public schools, notes from Edward L. Cochran and "History of Blacks in Howard County."

Seniors at the county's only all-black high school share a moment captured in the 1954 yearbook. The county school board decided to close Harriett Tubman High instead of expanding it to accommodate white

students.