Community honors Esther Long


By Abbie Preston and Zara Samdani, Staff Reporter and Co-T/E Editor

Singing, crying and laughing filled Conestoga’s atrium as members of the Tredyffrin/Easttown community honored 98-year-old Esther Long, the last surviving student of the 1932-34 Berwyn School Fight.

In 1932, the school district sent its white grammar students to a new and modern elementary school while sending the Black students and teachers to an old administrative building on the side of the Lincoln Highway. The policy did not go without a fight: after two years of Black families protesting — often by pulling their children out of school — the original state of integrated schools returned.

“Throughout our life (Long) has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice, equality and human dignity. Her tireless effort has made a significant impact on several people and advanced the cause of civil rights in our community,” said Reverend Scott Dorsey, former T/E School Board president and one of the nine speakers who presented speeches or songs during the ceremony on Saturday, April 29.

Long, who was 7 years old at the time, was among the 200 children whose schooling was disrupted. She recalls the exact moment when she discovered that she would no longer be attending school.

During the program, the school board passed a resolution to honor Long. District superintendent Richard Gusick notes the importance of acknowledging local history.

“When we share the stories of our own community, our students are more likely to feel connected to our past and our shared heritage,” Gusick said. “When our students explore local history, they can more easily understand how history is not only about far away places and unknown people.”

Long’s impact, however, extends beyond legislation. Senior Jaela Eaton, one of the speakers of the event, appreciates Long’s lasting impact on current African American students in the district.

“To be here in this moment with her and show her how much of an inspiration she is to me was really nice to see,” Eaton said. “Without the sacrifices of her and these other students, the Black students in the district would not be where they are today and would not be able to do the work that they do today.”

Abbie Preston can be reached at [email protected].

Zara Samdani can be reached at [email protected].