Enforcement of School Integration

October 17, 1956

Report Outline
Coercion Vs. Persuasion in School Reform
Mechanics of Enforcing Integration Ruling
Resistance to Enforcement in Old South

Coercion Vs. Persuasion in School Reform

Status of Intergration at Start of Third Year

Opening last month of the third school year since the Supreme Court handed down its historic anti-segregation decision of May 17, 1954, was marked by both advances and setbacks on the road to full racial integration in public elementary and secondary education in the United States. In September two years ago, the shift from segregation to integration was confined largely to the cities of Baltimore and Washington and to a limited number of schools or school districts in the states of Delaware and West Virginia. By September of last year, integration had spread to 442 school districts in the 17 states (and the District of Columbia) where separation of the races in public schools had been required by law. This year the number of school districts in which desegregation has taken place has risen to 650.

However, 3,061 school districts having Negro pupils are still operating on a segregated basis in the 17 states. Negro children in those states who may now go to school with white children number an estimated 320,000, while nearly 2.5 million Negro pupils must attend segregated schools. The bulk of the integration effected to date is in the border states. Segregation in public grade and high schools remains unbroken in eight states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia.

Deep Roots of School Segregation in the South

Integration of the schools involves the difficult problem of trying to bring about through legal processes a basic social reform which will affect the day-to-day lives of millions of persons. The task, in a large part of the South, is to change a custom followed ever since public education for Negro children was first generally provided after the Civil War, and to do so against strong public opposition. The country was up against much the same sort of thing, in another field and on a nation-wide basis, when it tried to enforce prohibition. That attempt at social reform, by constitutional amendment and federal legislation, ran into increasingly hostile public sentiment and was eventually abandoned as a failure.

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: African Americans
Crime and Law Enforcement
Diversity Issues
Segregation and Desegregation