Finding America Story of the Week: Ensley’s Integration Pioneer

Janice Houstin Nixon looks at yearbook pages from Ensley High School in Birmingham, Alabama, where her sister became the first black student in the school's history.In 1965, Carolyn Houston Crumbley Major became the first black graduate of Ensley High School in Birmingham, Alabama. Major died in 2009, but her sister Janice Houston Nixon and son Rafaael Crumbley continue to share her story. In the Finding America story of the week, The Junction lead producer Mary Quintas shared moments from a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Major’s graduation from high school.

“She believe that what I do, and how I do it, matters,” Crumbley said. “I might not be able to see it today, and I might not be able to see it ever. But it’s not lost.”

Learn more about Major and listen to a performance from the Birmingham Male Chorus at

Ensley is a group of neighborhoods on the west side of Birmingham, Alabama. To many people outside of these neighborhoods, Ensley is synonymous with crime and poverty. The Junction and WBHM seek to reveal a fuller portrait of Ensley by exploring what life is really like in the community, according to the community itself.

Experience the Finding America open-source documentary at