Pat Pascoes book tells the story of school integration in Denver

“A Dream of Justice” by Pat Pascoe (University Press of Colorado)

In 1969, shortly after the Denver Public School board passed the Noel Resolution advocating the integration of Denver Schools, two Denver lawyers, Ed Benton and Monte Pascoe, ran for the board on a pro-integration platform.

Denver parents were afraid that meant busing, and defeated them overwhelmingly.

The victory was hollow for anti-busers. Just weeks later, pro-integration forces filed a lawsuit against the schools. The Keyes case, as it was known, was in the courts for four years before the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs. It was another 20 years before the court was satisfied that the schools were fully integrated.

Pat Pascoe, who later served 12 years as a Colorado state senator, was intricately involved with her husband’s run for the school board and later helped implement integration of the schools. Nobody is better qualified to write the story of Keyes vs. Denver public schools.

Pascoe gives the history of the suit and tells the roles various Denverites played in its passage. The book is highly detailed with sometimes mind-numbing excerpts from the suits. But the text is enlivened by details of the Pascoe family during those years. Two of their children voluntarily attended a minority school, although the neighborhood school was only two blocks away.

And there are droll quips from Benton, who had been on the school board before his run with Pascoe. When a member voiced the need for further integration study, Benton said, “We don’t need more study; we need more courage.” And when a 2 a.m. caller said a killer was just outside his house, ready to break in, Benton replied, “You have the wrong number.”

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