School Desegregation

January 12, 1955

Report Outline
Southern Resistance to Desegregation
First Tests in Integration of Schools
Problems of Adjustment to Integration
Special Focus

Southern Resistance to Desegregation

Convening of the Mississippi legislature in special session on Jan. 11, for the purpose of advancing a program to equalise the state's separate school facilities for white and Negro children, signalized the determination of the Deep South to challenge the Supreme Court's decision outlawing segregation in the public schools. The opinion delivered by Chief Justice Warren for a unanimous Court on May 17, 1954, stated specifically that observance of the old doctrine of “separate but equal” would no longer suffice to avert collision with constitutional bars to racial discrimination. Yet Mississippi is moving to comply only with the old rule, not the new standard.

Mississippi and three other states—Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina—already have prepared the way for possible direct action to circumvent the Supreme Court's decision. They have adopted constitutional amendments designed to enable them to retain segregation in one way or another. Bills based on the amendments may be taken up at the present regular sessions of the Georgia and South Carolina legislatures. Pressure for similar constitutional and statutory action may be applied during the current sessions of state legislatures in Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, and it is likely to develop at sessions of the Alabama and Florida legislatures in the spring.

Delay of Supreme Court Hearing on School Decree

The action finally taken by the southern states will depend to a large extent on the nature of the decree that the Supreme Court will issue, probably later this year, to govern enforcement of its decision in the five school districts where the suits on the constitutional issue were brought. Hearings on how and when racial integration should be effected were originally scheduled to open last Dec. 6 but were postponed when the Senate, at its special session in November, failed to act on President Eisenhower's nomination of John Marshall Harlan to fill the Court vacancy left by the death of Associate Justice Jackson. The hearings presumably will be rescheduled as soon as the Court again has a full bench.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Segregation and Desegregation
Apr. 23, 2004  School Desegregation
Oct. 18, 1996  Rethinking School Integration
Feb. 24, 1995  Housing Discrimination
Dec. 26, 1975  Busing Reappraisal
May 03, 1974  Desegregation After 20 Years
Aug. 24, 1973  Educational Equality
Sep. 06, 1972  Blacks on Campus
Mar. 01, 1972  School Busing and Politics
Aug. 16, 1967  Open Housing
Apr. 29, 1964  School Desegregation: 1954–1964
Feb. 06, 1963  Interracial Housing
Aug. 27, 1958  School Integration: Fifth Year
Jan. 15, 1958  Residential Desegregation
Oct. 16, 1957  Legal Processes in Race Relations
Oct. 17, 1956  Enforcement of School Integration
Jan. 12, 1955  School Desegregation
Sep. 03, 1954  Segregation in Churches
Oct. 08, 1952  Race Segregation
Nov. 07, 1947  Negro Segregation
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights: African Americans
Diversity Issues
Segregation and Desegregation