In the wake of Cameron Boyce’s death, fans and loved ones are reliving the late actor’s on-screen work. One heartfelt interview with his grandma Jo Ann Boyce, an American hero as part of the Clinton 12, has gotten a lot of attention.
In an interview with Access back in 2016, Jo Ann said she is Cameron’s biggest fan and watches his performances, “Over and over and over.” With a prideful grin, the 77-year-old continued, “Descendants, I watched probably six or seven times already. … Still watch Jessie. We watch the reruns.”
Jo Ann also graced America’s TV screens back in 1954 when televisions were in black and white, and so was the country, racially. Jo Ann was one of the students in the Clinton 12, the first group of black students to attend an integrated public school in the South. After the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education, Clinton High School in Tennessee was ordered to desegregate in 1954. The footage of the 12 students marching into school for the first time has since become a historic artifact. The students were hazed on their walk to school and bullied in the school house for months.
“Even though there were days that we were extremely fearful, we continued to walk,” Jo Ann said in an interview with Disney XD and Disney Channel’s new Be Inspired short-film series, commemorating Black History Month.
Cameron said his grandmother was one of the greatest inspirations in an interview with Haute Living back in May. “Being African-American and Jewish, I have plenty of ancestors and family members that I can look to for strength, and more importantly, for a grateful outlook on life,” the actor said. “Every one of them clawed and scratched for my sister and I to be in the position we’re in today.”
When Jo Ann was asked if she feels the world has come far since the days of the Clinton 12, she simply said, “We definitely haven’t come far enough. We have come far.”
“I could just see the hate in their hearts,” said Jo Ann in an interview from 1956. In 2016, Jo Ann still saw hate in the human heart. “Racism is really a heart disease. Until we get rid of that, things will not get much better.”
Almost three years after the touching interview, Cameron passed away on Saturday, July 6, “due seizure which was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated,” a spokesperson for the family told Us Weekly.
“The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him.”
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