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The burnished trophies were oozing into a molten pool.
The air conditioners, paid for with bake sales and door-to-door fund drives, were long gone.
O'Neal and a friend repeatedly objected to the school board and ultimately filed a lawsuit against school officials in federal court.
And when they lost, O'Neal began writing letters to the federal government.
Even now, having retreated to the pinewoods where he initially earned a living as a logger, he clenches his fist at Till's memory. "I guess I was like Daniel [in the Bible], running away from the job that God had for me, but God pulled me back," says O'Neal, whose lean limbs remain roped with the muscles of his logging years. There, in the reddish brown house on the right, is where Carol James' mother lives.
It is lush and undulating land spliced by the bass-rich waters of the Little Tallapoosa River.
High school boys sometimes head into the woods with their rifles before school and have been known to attend class in their bloodied camouflage.
Now 33, James left long ago for Las Vegas, where she is a nurse.
But she has not forgotten what she says Humphries told her when she asked him why he chose a white girl with less experience than herself to be the cheerleading captain.