Southern school news. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1954-1965, October 01, 1954, Image 1
Id 30^ Is 7* 7 0. Factual Southern School News GENERAL LIBRARY 3C7 14 1S54 liUjYtkSHY.Of GEORGIA -Objective VOL. I, NO. 2 NASHVILLE, TENN. OCTOBER I, 1954 Opening Of School Shows Varied Pattern Cchool bells sounded throughout *^the nation last month, summoning millions of children to school. For most of them, “back-to-school-day” was not unlike those in past years. But there were notable exceptions. In a few formerly segregated pub lic school systems, children found themselves assigned to schools on the basis of residence and convenience rather than race. And in others, plans to circumvent the May 17 Supreme Court ruling on public school seg regation were firmed up. The exceptions were characterized by the statement of a student editor in Missouri as he faced up to the de segregation of Mexico’s schools. He said he hoped the townspeople didn’t “show too much concern” because the students could take the change in stride. Also significant were the strong protests of students and parents in West Virginia and Delaware com munities, where plans to desegregate public schools met organized or spon taneous resistance. In an effort to provide public of ficials, school administrators and lay citizens with essential background in formation for understanding the tremendously complex problem posed by the Supreme Court decision, the September issue of Southern School News was devoted almost en tirely to a documentary account of the significant events in the District of Columbia and 17 southern and border states since the court ruling. With this second issue, Southern School News begins to tell the story, factually and objectively, of the ad justments that the various states and communities make as a result of the court opinion. Because the court’s action had an impact outside the South—where segregation has been required by law—this issue also in cludes reports from the states of Ari zona, New Mexico and Kansas— where segregation has been permitted in varying degrees. The story, state by state, will be found in the pages that follow. But for the reader who is in a hurry, here are some of the highlights of the reports that follow. ALABAMA — The list of Deep South states that are seriously con sidering constitutional amendments to evade, or delay the impact of, the Supreme Court opinion increased by one when a special legislative com mittee recommended to Gov. Gordon Persons that sections of the Alabama constitution be rewritten to pave the way for abolition of public education in the state. ARKANSAS — Alone among the °eep South states, Arkansas reported two examples of public school in tegration. Charleston and Fayetteville absorbed small numbers of Negro students without incident, but else where in the state, the schools re- teeined segregated. Complying with a request from the state board of ed ucation, Atty. Gen. Tom Gentry said e would file a “friend of the court” nef with the Supreme Court. Outside the South, but sv , a Partially segregated school m in the past, Arizona entered a final phase of an integration pro- att . a* was The center of national t,r!! IOn * hen i4 began in 1953. The in * S sc b e duled to be completed DELAWARE — Newspaper an im! n ^Porters, and millions < ti on re r !teci mfizens throughout the nr a sr^on Pt their attention focused c rim . c °u amu nity on the norther e Southland. As the attome How States Are Reacting To Court Decision Strongly Resisting Integration Awaiting Court Action Moving Toward Integration general of Delaware was preparing the brief to be filed with the Supreme Court commenting on the “remark ably peaceful transition” to deseg regated schools, a strong protest movement suddenly mush roomed in Milford, resulting in threats of violence, the resignation of school board members, and the temporary closing of the schools. In Wilmington, however, integration proceeded with out incident. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA —The progress of desegregation in the na tion’s capital also captured the inter est of millions. In the District of Columbia, 111 of 161 school buildings housed classes of whites and Negroes for the first time. Integration was ac complished smoothly. Yet it was strongly protested by the Federation of Citizens Associations, representing 57 groups limited to white members, as being premature. And it was pro tested by the Washington chapter of the National Association for the Ad vancement of Colored People as “gradualism.” FLORIDA—In the peninsula state of Florida, children went to school as in past years. Officially, the state government appeared to be assuming a “watchful waiting” posture. Act ually, Florida officials have been busily studying the many problems posed by the Supreme Court opinion. Last month Florida officials received the results of a $10,000 opinion sur vey conducted in 12 representative counties. This survey will form the basis of the brief to be filed by Flori da at the Supreme Court hearing in December—a brief which describes the manifold problems involved in transition, but a brief which declares that segregated schools can be ended in Florida equitably over an extended period of time with “tact and wis dom.” GEORGIA—After a warm political campaign, the people of Georgia Court Sets Date For Hearing Harold B. Willey, U.S. Supreme Court clerk, announced on Sept 22 that the date for the Court to hear arguments on implementing its May 17 opinion has been sched uled for Dec. 6. The date was set at a closed meeting of seven of the justices. Justices Minton and Douglas were absent, but concurred in the date. nominated as their next governor a man who has pledged “Come hell or high water, races will not be mixed in Georgia schools.” On Nov. 2, Georgians will vote on a constitu tional amendment authorizing the legislature to abolish public schools. The state’s attorney general reiter ated the Talmadge administration’s decision to boycott the Supreme Court’s December hearing since, in his opinion, it would morally and legally obligate Georgia to support whatever action the court might take in the future. KANSAS — While segregated schools have been the rule in the South, they have not been uncommon elsewhere. In fact, a school system in Topeka, Kansas, was a defendant in the five segregation cases on which the Supreme Court based its May decision. Desegregation in Kansas was under way before the court issued its ruling, but it has been speeded up since. A survey con ducted last month for Southern School News reveals that most of the ten cities which had segregated sys tems are now integrating their schools. KENTUCKY—In the border state of Kentucky, children returned to segregated schools. But Gov. Law rence Wetherby said that the state is just waiting for the Supreme Court’s final ruling, and that he will then “do whatever is necessary to comply with the law.” Under con sideration by state officials is a pro posal to establish a “Division on De segregation” as an arm of the state board of education. LOUISIANA—Any doubts remain ing about Louisiana’s attitude toward participating in the December Su preme Court hearing were dispelled by the attorney general, who an nounced: “We are not parties to any of the segregation suits now before the Supreme Court.” The schools re mained segregated. A proposed con stitutional amendment declaring seg regation a matter of “health and morals” and consequently under the “police power” of the state will be voted on Nov. 2. MARYLAND — Baltimore, largest city of the border state of Maryland, with a public school population of 140,957—39 per cent Negro—envolved a relatively new technique of integra tion. There was no deliberate mixing of the school population. Since Balti more has seldom “districted” schools in the usual sense of the word, chil dren were permitted to attend the school of their choice. Result of this “voluntary integration,” according to preliminary enrollment figures, was that only 2.5 per cent of the Negro students chose to go to formerly all- white schools. Said a school board official: the plan is operating “so smoothly there is no need for com ment.” MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi legislature met in special session last month and approved a constitutional amendment to be voted on in Decem ber. The amendment—to be used only as a “last resort”—would authorize the legislature to abolish public schools. Gov. Hugh White said the state is not defying the Supreme Court, rather it is “simply exercising the same legal right to resist this most unfortunate decision that the NAACP exercised in contesting the unanimous court decisions of over half a century.” MISSOURI—The majority of Mis souri’s 63,000 Negro students live in the state’s two largest cities — St. Louis and Kansas City. Both have scheduled integration of high school classes in January, and integration of the elementary grades will follow next September. A degree of integra tion has already occured in a few Kansas City schools. Eight other Mis souri communities, including Neosho, the state’s onetime Confederate capi tal, have integrated their schools. NEW MEXICO—In another south western state, the last three New Mexico communities permitting seg regation terminated the practice this fall. The violence predicated by a clergyman—a threat that gained na tional attention—did not materialize. NORTH CAROLINA —As in most other states of the South, students in North Carolina returned to a seg regated school system in September. Officials were not inactive, however. It was announced that the state would Three New States CoveredThisMonth “Southern School News” went out side its regular “news beat” this month to obtain special reports on three states that have permitted seg regation in the past—Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas. The reports are found on the fol lowing pages: Arizona Page 15 New Mexico Page 15 Kansas Page 16 file a brief at the December Supreme Court hearing, and that the state’s attorney-general would present oral arguments before the court. There were other developments in North Carolina. Raleigh officials launched a survey to provide documentation of problems that would be involved in implementing the court decision. Teachers in Harnett County met in a non-segregated meeting for the first time. A delegation supporting seg regation presented a petition to Gov. William Umstead. And a non-stock corporation—the North Carolina As sociation for the Preservation of the White Race Inc.—was formed in Durham. OKLAHOMA—No change in the Oklahoma public school system de veloped in September, but race bar riers fell in the state’s colleges and parochial schools. The NAACP made no overt moves to attempt to force admittance of Negroes to public schools on a non-segregated basis, but backed two special suits pending in the courts. SOUTH CAROLINA—The state of South Carolina will not participate in the December hearing, but Claren don County—a defendant in one of the five suits decided last May—will be represented. The state’s 550,000 students, approximately 43 per cent of whom are Negroes, enrolled in segregated schools. Meanwhile, a special legislative committee con tinued studying means to preserve segregated schools. A States Rights League was formed in Sumter Coun ty, and in Rock Hill, a small domi nantly textile community, white and Negro students attended school to gether for the first time at the paro chial school. TENNESSEE — Observers in Ten nessee say first reports that the Vol unteer state would file a brief before the Supreme Court are now being discounted. Public school students enrolled in segregated schools in Sep tember, but in Nashville, white paro chial schools were opened to Negroes. TEXAS—Negro students in Dallas, Fort Worth and a few other communi ties attempted, unsuccessfully, to en roll in previously all-white public schools. The state attorney general said that a brief would be filed at the December hearing. The platform adopted by the Texas Democratic convention declared the Supreme Court’s decision an “unwarranted invasion” of states rights. VIRGINIA — The Commission on Public Education, appointed by Gov. Thomas B. Stanley, met last month for the first time. It decided, among other things, to hold executive ses sions unless public hearings become necessary. The composition of the committee — all white legislators — camaJn for some criticism from the stated'newspapers. WE§T VIRGINIA — Toward the end of September, Milford, Delaware, had captured the public’s fancy, but there were also newsworthy incidents in two West Virginia counties. Near violence occurred in Greenbrier and Boone counties as white students picketed schools newly opened to Negro students. Partially obscured by the headlines, however, was the fact that 12 of West Virginia’s counties are completely integrated, 13 par- tically integrated, 18 waiting for fur ther court action. Eleven of the coun ties have no Negro students. In the pages that follow, the state- by-state story is told in full detail.