Desegregation After 20 Years

May 3, 1974

Report Outline
New Issues Arising From 1954 Decision
Struggle to Apply Desegregation Rule
Prospect for Fulfilling Integration Aims
Special Focus

New Issues Arising From 1954 Decision

Shift of School Problem From South to North

May 17, 1974, will mark the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, a decision that set off a revolution in race relations that has yet to run its full course. Brown was the spark that led to the explosion of the civil rights movement: to the sit-ins of the late 1950s and early 1960s, to the passage of civil rights legislation, and to the flood of litigation that fathered key decisions extending the range of the nation's anti-discrimination policies. During the two decades since Brown the black American gained a new confidence in his potentiality as a first-class citizen while the white American became aware as never before of the black as aspirant to the same personal goals as himself.

The decision shook up American education. Desegregation meant not only a mixing of races, but often a mixing of cultures and socio-economic conditions. White educators who previously had paid little attention to education of Negroes became painfully aware of how badly many black children had been shortchanged in their racially isolated schools. White teachers and black teachers alike had to adjust quickly to new and more varied mixtures of human potential in their classrooms.

Problems in teaching the newly mixed classes led to challenges and subsequent reevaluations of many entrenched school practices: admissions policy, promotion practices, classroom procedures, the design of standardized testing all felt the impact. Marked differences in modes of speech among mixed-class pupils led to disputes over the merits of forcing standard English on ghetto children. The curricula of schools at all levels were jostled loose from tradition. Textbooks were revised or supplanted by new ones containing material “relevant” to the lives and interests of black pupils and to the civil rights struggle. Compensatory education for the “culturally disadvantaged” came into the picture and was almost immediately attacked as another form of discrimination. “Ability grouping” to ease the teacher's task went by the boards under the charge of “racism.” And an entire new discipline known as “black studies” came into being at all levels of education.

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
Diversity Issues
Segregation and Desegregation
Undergraduate and Graduate Education