Jim Crow Guide: The Way it Was
by Stetson Kennedy 1959
Chapter VII - Who May Study Where
Not only your class, but your race, religion and ancestry may largely affect for better or worse your opportunities for education in the U.S.A.
The system of separate schools for white and Negro children, imposed by law for nearly three-quarters of a century in seventeen states and the nation's capital, has been most conducive to inequality of opportunity. Although the U.S. Supreme Court was at length prevailed upon in 1954 to rule against compulsory race segregation in the public schools, the decision has been slow in taking effect, and powerful forces are at work to subvert it altogether; so it might not be amiss to look into the history and provisions of these laws.
Most of these laws require segregation at all levels of public education, and some, like that of Kansas, apply to private schools as well.
Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, and other states have made it a criminal offence to permit children of different race to attend the same school, the latter state stipulating a fine of so dollars and imprisonment from one to six months.
Georgia law is content to say: "No teacher receiving or teaching white and colored pupils in the same school shall be allowed any compensation at all out of the common school funds." The state also denies tax-exempt status to any private school which might admit students of both races.
Various states have gone to various extremes in their determination to keep education of the races as separate as possible.
Texas law, in requiring school officials to keep a census of all children living in their district, stipulates that the names of white and Negro children be kept on separate lists.
Mississippi law (Act Of 1940) requires that the free textbooks provided by the state for white and Negro students be kept in separate warehouses. Furthermore, white and Negro applicants for teaching licences are required by law to take their examinations in separate rooms.
South Carolina law contains a proviso: "Persons having less than 1/8th Negro blood shall be entitled to full rights of full-blooded whites, provided however that full-blooded whites do not object to their attending a common school; if there is objection, the state is obligated to provide a separate school for the mixed-bloods, neither white nor colored."
American Indian children are likewise commonly barred from attending white schools. Mississippi law provides: "In a county where there arc Indian children, or children of any race not otherwise provided for by law with educational advantages, the county board may locate one or more schools exclusively for Indians, or children of such other race."
Persons of Mexican descent are also very often assigned to separate schools, despite a 1946 ruling against the practice (handed down by Federal Judge Paul J. McCormick in Los Angeles).
In the nation's capital, separation of schools according to race was based upon a Congressional Act Of 1878. The U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that all children having 1/16th or more Negro blood were precluded by law from attending white schools in the capital. This was reconfirmed in 1947, when a U.S. District Judge in Washington threw out the petition of Marguerite Daisy Carr, Negro, 13, who had asked that she be permitted to attend a white school because the Negro school, due to overcrowding, offered only a half day of study.
In addition to the seventeen states which have laws requiring separate schools, Arizona requires segregation in elementary schools and makes it permissive in high schools; and New Mexico, Maryland, and Wyoming have state laws expressly permitting local school authorities to segregate-the latter state restricting this privilege to cities of more than 15,000 population.
Certain other states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York, have condoned a considerable amount of segregation in schools ill certain sections, achieved by one or more of the following extra-legal means:
- The gerrymandering of school districts to conform with already segregated residential areas.
- Edicts of school boards.
- Discriminatory action by school principals.
- The issuance of "permits" to Negro students, forcing them to travel outside the district in which they live to some other district which has a Negro school.
- Social pressures against Negroes enrolling in white schools.
So effective have such methods been that the NAACP., in a survey Of 37 Pennsylvania communities in 1948, was obliged to conclude that at least a third of them were formally compelling white and Negro students to go to separate schools.
Most of the state school segregation laws make use of the phrase 69 separate but equal", though the North Carolina law speaks merely of equal opportunities".
In reality, of course, the facilities provided have been far from equal. In fact, the burden of maintaining a dual system has resulted, in the relatively poor South, in lowering the standards of white education to such an extent that Army intelligence tests during World War I revealed higher ratings by Northern Negroes than Southern whites.
Official U.S. Government figures have shown, throughout the decades, the gross discrepancies between white and Negro educational facilities in the states segregated by law.
The value of school property accessible to you, if Negro, is less than one-fourth what it would be if you were white.
The annual per capita expenditure by the state on your schooling, if Negro, is but one-half what it would be if you were white. Your chances of getting a ride to school on a free school bus arc but one-third those of a white student. Your classrooms, overcrowded in any case, will contain on the average an additional dozen students if you arc attending a Negro school. Functional illiteracy (five years of schooling or less) is three times more prevalent among young Southern Negroes than among young Southern whites. Even so, the racial differential in the quality of instruction offered in the South is so great that you might not learn as much in six years as a white child learns in three.
Should you succeed in getting more than six years of schooling, if Negro you will be offered only such vocational courses as bricklaying, carpentry, and sewing, whereas if you were white you would be given a chance to study such things as aviation, printing, and cosmetology.
Only about 10 per cent of the Negroes in America have been able to complete ten years of school, whereas 30 per cent of the native-born whites get that far.
Although a fourth of the South's school children are Negroes, almost no Negroes have ever been permitted to sit on state or local school boards in this region.
The Lowdown on Higher Education
So you want to go to college!
Perhaps you've heard that in America even a poor boy can work his way through ...
But, rich or poor, before you start there are some other things you ought to hear about, if you are not white and Christian.
Only about 7 per cent of native-born white Americans have finished as much as four years of college, 3 per cent of foreign-born whites, and 2 per cent of Negroes.
Negroes have been barred not only from the state-supported white colleges throughout the region where race segregation has been the law, but also from a great many of the private universities throughout the land. Consequently you will find, if Negro, that 85 per cent of your kind are perforce enrolled in Negro colleges.
The discrepancy which is so marked between white and Negro primary and secondary schools in the segregated states rises to even higher levels in the realm of higher education. In this segregated region, the ratio of public and private expenditures for white colleges as compared to Negro ranges from 42 to 1 in Kentucky to 3 to 1 in Washington, D.C.
Outside this territory the practices of private universities vary, from a minimum of discrimination against Negroes at such institutions as Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago to the lily-white policy of Princeton and the "token Negro" formula of many minor colleges.
Such state-supported facilities as are available to Negroes in the seventeen states which have segregation laws are extremely limited in certain spheres of advanced study. No such Negro institution in this region offers degrees in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or philosophy. Only one offers a degree in social work, and one in library science. A bare half-dozen include some sort of law school.
One result of this is that, of the approximately 49000 Ph.D. degrees issued in the U.S.A. in a recent year, only 8 went to Negroes.
Despite the dire need of the Negro population for more physicians, it is extremely difficult for Negroes to obtain training in this field. Of the 77 medical colleges in the U.S.A., 20 are located in the South and will accept no Negroes. Of the remaining 57, only 19 will admit Negroes. Out of the total of approximately 600 Negro medical students enrolled in a recent year, less than 100 were in white medical colleges. Howard, a private Negro university near Washington, is able to take in 75 medical students per year; its yearly applications average well over a thousand. The same is true of Howard's dental school.
If you are a Negro and want to be a nurse, this is to advise you that 1,214 of the 1,280 nursing schools in the U.S.A. are open to whites only.
Getting a college education in the U.S.A. often depends on still other factors than the color of your skin.
A survey by the New York State Commission on the Need for a State University has examined the application forms of 12.5 colleges located in that state. Of these, 67 per cent required a photograph of the applicant, 63 per cent asked the mother's maiden name, 53 per cent inquired about the parents' birthplace, 3 2. per cent wanted to know the applicant's religion, and 16 per cent asked about race or color The Commission came to the "inescapable conclusion" that the institutions were "extremely anxious to ascertain the racial origins, religion, and color of the various applicants for a purpose other than judging their qualifications for admission".
The situation is much the same everywhere in the U.S.A.
For instance, the University of Southern California-should you apply there-will want to know whether you are "Anglo-Saxon, French, Germanic, Italian, Negro, Oriental, Scandinavian, Slavonic, or Spanish".
The University of Virginia-perhaps less particular-will ask you to specify whether you are "English, French, Hebrew, or Italian".
Should -you come across an application blank which does not ask such questions, you shouldn't think that this necessarily means the doors of that institution are wide open. As pointed out by the Connecticut Interracial Commission: "No institution of higher learning is operating in a vacuum with respect to racial, religious, or national origin criteria merely because it has removed a specific question on race, religion, or national origin from its application form."
Some colleges may bar you solely on the basis of your name as indicating that you belong to some religious or national minority. Or, your address may be sufficiently revealing, especially as to race. Beyond this, some colleges will ask you for a personal interview-or a letter of recommendation from your clergyman.
The greatest handicap in getting a college education in the U.S.A. is to be of the Negro race, and the next greatest is to be of the Jewish faith.
Some colleges exclude Jews altogether. For instance, a Jewish parent who inquired about enrolling her daughter at Harcum junior College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, was told by the president: I assume that you are Jewish and, since we have no girls of the Hebrew faith at Harcum this year, and have none enrolled for next year. I sincerely believe that your daughter would be happier at another junior college."
A nationwide survey, made possible by a grant from the Ant Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and the Vocational Service Bureau, has been conducted for the American Council on Education by the Elmo Roper research organization.
From a sampling of 10,000 high school seniors, it was found that about one-third intended to go to college. However, of those who applied for admission, 77 per cent of all Protestant applications were accepted, as compared to 67 per cent of the Catholic and 56 per cent of the Jewish.
This means that if you are Jewish you may have to apply to a number of colleges before you will be accepted, if at all. Application fees range from 5 to 10 dollars, and are generally not refunded.
To gain admission to a college in a northeastern state, you will have to make one-third more applications if you are Jewish than if you arc Christian.
There is a further penalty if you are both Jewish and bright. A separate sampling of male students in the northeast who were in the upper fifth of their class scholastically revealed that such jews had only a 53 per cent chance of acceptance, as compared to 71 per cent for the Catholics and 74 per cent for the Protestants.
The nationwide B'nai B'rith survey also brought out the extent to which your chances of entering professional colleges have been declining in recent years, if you happen to be Jewish.
In the case of law schools, Jewish enrolment was reduced from 2 5 - 8 percent in 193 5 to 1 1 - 1 percent in 1946. In private engineering schools, Jewish enrolment was pushed down from 6 - 5 per cent to 5 - 6 per cent; in architecture, from 8.- 5 per cent to 4 -4 per cent; in dentistry, from 28.5 per cent to 19-7 per cent; in social work from 13-6 per cent to 1 1 - 1 per cent; in commerce, from 16 - 7 per cent to 10- 7 per cent; in fine arts, from 15 - 5 per cent to 8 - 4 per cent.
In the medical profession, too, there has been a concerted effort to squeeze Jews out.
to squeeze Jews out. If you are Jewish, your chances of getting into a medical college are not even half as good today as they were 20 years ago. Only one out of every 13 Jewish applicants is admitted, as compared to three out of every four Christian applicants.
Here are some typical figures on the drop in enrolment of Jewish medical students at the following universities: Columbia, from 46-92 per cent in 1920 to 6 - 4 per cent in 1940; Long Island University, from 42-24 per cent in 1932 to 14-14 in 1940; Syracuse, from 19.44 in 1936 to 6. 0 in 1942; Cornell, from 40 per cent in 1920 to 5 - 0 in 1945.
The rationale of the "quota system" which has brought about this sort of thing has been expressed by Dean Willard C. Rappleye of Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons as follows: "There is a general belief that the representation of the various social, religious, and racial groups in medicine ought to be kept fairly parallel with the population makeup."
Dr. Morris Fishbein, editor of the journal of the American Medical Association, has in effect endorsed this point of view.
If you are Jewish and are in search of medical training, you will find the following colleges employ the quota system against persons of your faith:
Johns Hopkins Bowman Gray, N.C.
Harvard University of Virginia
University of Rochester
Also discriminating, but somewhat less grossly, are:
University of Chicago
University of Maryland
Washington University (St. Louis),
University of Cincinnati
University of California
University of Pennsylvania
The first breakthroughs in the court battles against segregated schools were scored in higher education. During the two decades from 1927 to 1948, all of the seventeen states having school segregation laws adopted additional laws, providing for payment of out-of-state stipendiums to individual Negro students who insisted upon pursuing some line of study that the state offered to white students but not to Negroes. In short these states shipped such Negro students off to Negro colleges or to such white colleges outside the South as would admit them.
But in 1935 the Supreme Court agreed with a Negro plaintiff seeking entrance to the University of Maryland that he was entitled to equal educational opportunity within his native state. Again, in 1938 in a case involving the University of Missouri, the Court reasserted this principle. (Interestingly, the plaintiff in this case, Lloyd Gaines, disappeared soon after the Court decision, and is still a "missing person".)
Nearly a decade later, in 1946, when the courts ordered the State of Texas to admit Heman Marion Sweatt, a Negro, to the University of Texas law school, a three-room law school was hastily erected instead at the Texas college for Negroes.
A year later, in 1947, Federal Judge J. Waites Waning ordered South Carolina to fulfill the Constitutional right of Negro war veteran John H. Wrighten by:
(a) Admitting him to the University of South Carolina law school, or
(b) Establishing a law school for Negroes equal in every respect to the white School, or
(c) Closing the white law school.
Whereupon a one-room law school was established at the state college for Negroes.
That same year, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Oklahoma to provide equal opportunity for the study of law by Ada Lois Sipuel "and all others similarly situated"; but in this case too a one-room law school was set up at the Negro college.
In all of these cases, the Negro plaintiffs refused to accept the makeshift schools as equal, and appealed again to the courts, to no avail.
In 1948 the University of Oklahoma did admit its first Negro student, Professor G. W. McLaurin, 54, following a Federal court order that he be provided equal opportunity to secure a doctorate degree in education. However, a separate booth for Professor McLaurin was built inside the classroom, and subsequently a Federal court ruled that the university was within its rights in thus segregating him.
Meanwhile, the governors of nine Southern states got together and devised a plan for pooling appropriations from their states to establish regional colleges in certain specialized fields of study, some for whites and some for Negroes. In this way they hoped to satisfy the insistence of the courts that they provide equal opportunities, and yet save money. Congress approved this plan in 1948 by a vote Of 236 to 45, but the Senate rejected it by a vote Of 38 to 37 after almost every Negro organization in the country had protested against it.
Despite this, 14 Southern governors went ahead and established a Regional Education Board, which began by building a regional veterinary college for white students in Georgia; but the plan bogged down as court decisions spurning it piled up.
A case of more than passing interest was that of Julius Caesar Hill, who in 1949 posted an application blank to the University of Oklahoma, enclosing dormitory fee of 10 dollars, and specifying under the heading "Race" that he was "American". Hill's fee was accepted and his name duly inscribed, but when upon arriving at the university it was seen that he was a Negro American, separate living quarters were hastily erected for him. The university's board of regents instructed the president to enforce segregation of Hill "to the greatest extent".
Similarly, when a group of Negroes were admitted to the University of Kentucky after a court battle in 1949, a sign was placed on a cafeteria table reading "Reserved for Negroes".
And so the years and decades passed, and a few token Negroes were admitted to a few white universities in the states fringing the South, but in a half-dozen Deep South states the doors to white state universities remained as tightly barred to Negroes as ever. In 1951 Congress actually passed a law providing Federal financial aid for the state school system with a proviso that no such aid would be given to any Southern school, which was not segregated; only with difficulty was President Truman prevailed upon to shelve the measure.
Here's an added fact, presented at face value, whose significance you can judge for yourself, along whatever lines you choose: a chief support of separate Negro colleges has long been America's big business enterprises. Through an organization called the United Negro College Fund, some of the country's leading industrial magnates contribute an average of 30 million dollars to thirty-two Negro colleges each year. In 1953 the Fund conducted a fast-flying two-day excursion, escorting a party of twenty-five of its biggest supporters on a tour of Negro college campuses so they could "see where their money goes". The party included John D. Rockefeller III; the chairman of the Chase National Bank, Winthrop W. Aldridge (sometime Ambassador to Great Britain); the chairman of the Firestone Rubber Company, Harvey S. Firestone, Jr.; Robert E. Wilson, chairman of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana; Richard K. Mellon of the Mellon banking interests; and Devereux C. Josephs of the New York Life Insurance Company. Rockefeller launched the year's campaign with a contribution of 5 million dollars.
You may regard this as pure charity-or as an effort to reduce the pressure for opening the doors of white colleges to Negroes-or as an attempt to assure that Negro professionals will embrace the philosophy of big business.
(Should you be inclined to the latter view, you may be interested to note in passing that the interest of the business community in higher education is by no means limited to Negro education. The American Council on Education has estimated that five and a half billion dollars will be needed merely to house increased university enrolment by' 1970. "Where is that sort of money coming from?" Time magazine has asked. "With the announcement of a two million dollar per year gift program by General Motors, one thing had become clear: U.S. industry is well started on a program to give help to U.S. colleges and universities-and thereby to help itself." You may recall the remark of Charles E. Wilson, longtime General Motors head, whom Secretary of Defence declared. "What's good for G.M. is good for the U.S." Other big subsidizers of higher education in America are U.S. Steel, Standard Oil, Bethlehem Steel, and DuPont chemicals.)
Golden Rule Days?
Meanwhile, the American Negro's unremitting courtroom battle to have segregation ruled out of the public school system moved toward its climax. At the same time, many white Southern politicos busied themselves issuing threats intended to influence the Supreme Court's decision on this question.
In South Carolina, Governor James F. Byrnes (former U.S. Secretary of State) threatened that his state would abolish public education rather than comply with any court order against separate schools. In Georgia, Governor Herman Talmadge said his state would do the same thing, and added that "blood would flow in the streets" if such a court order were forthcoming. A Georgia state convention of the Democratic Party called upon every public official in the state to "fight with all the resources of the state" to maintain separate schools for the races, despite any and all court rulings to the contrary.
"We will go to jail before we will let white and colored students go to school together!" shouted convention floor leader Roy Harris.
Inspired by such statements from official circles, the K.K.K. proceeded to organize a sort of S.S. -group under the name "American Confederate Army for White Christians". Launched at a secret meeting held in Orlando, Florida, in 1952, this K.K.K.-S.S. sent an announcement through the U.S. mails:
"If necessary this organization will bear arms to uphold our Constitutional rights. If the Supreme Court ever outlaws racial segregation in the public schools, all members will take this as an invasion of our constitutional rights."
In preparation for a Der Tag of that sort, Klan Dragon Bill Hendrix said the new group was compiling lists of the members of the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League of the Jewish B'nai B'rith fraternity. He warned: "If law and order [by which he means segregation] ever break down, we will hold them responsible!"
During December of 1952 the Supreme Court listened to the arguments of Negro complainants against segregation in South Carolina Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, and Washington, D.C. All these cases made a frontal attack upon the Constitutionality of segregation in public schools, and were bitterly contested by the attorneys general of the states involved. After six months of deliberation, the Court took the unusual action of admitting that it had been unable to come to any decision, and asked the attorneys to again come before the Court to argue both sides of the question.
Re-argument began in December Of 1953 Heading the contingent of lawyers who defended the South's segregation laws was the Wall Street corporation counsel, John W. Davis, whose firm represents such clients as Standard Oil, American Telephone and Telegraph, International Paper Company, Guaranty Trust, and the banking House of Morgan. A former assistant U.S. attorney general, Member of Congress, and Ambassador to Great Britain, Davis in previous appearances before the Supreme Court had succeeded in winning a number of dismissals of anti-trust prosecutions.
Governor Herman Talmadge said his state would do the same thing, and added that "blood would flow in the streets" if such a court order were forthcoming. A Georgia state convention of the Democratic Party called upon every public official in the state to "fight with all the resources of the state" to maintain separate schools for the races, despite any and all court rulings to the contrary.
"We will go to jail before we will let white and colored students go to school together!" shouted convention floor leader Roy Harris.
Inspired by such statements from official circles, the KKK. proceeded to organize a sort of S.S.-group under the name "American Confederate Army for White Christians". Launched at a secret meeting held in Orlando, Florida, in 1952, this KKK.-S.S. sent an announcement through the U.S. mails:
"If necessary this organization will bear arms to uphold our Constitutional rights. If the Supreme Court ever outlaws racial segregation in the public schools, all members will take this as an invasion of our Constitutional rights."
In preparation for a Der Tag of that sort, Klan Dragon Bill Hendrix said the new group was compiling lists of the members of the NAACP. and Anti-Defamation League of the Jewish B'nai Birth fraternity. He warned: "If law and order [by which he means segregation] ever break down, we will hold them responsible!"
During December of 1952 the Supreme Court listened to the arguments of Negro complainants against segregation in South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, and Washington, D.C. All these cases made a frontal attack upon the Constitutionality of segregation in public schools, and were bitterly contested by the attorneys general of the states involved. After six months of deliberation, the Court took the unusual action of admitting that it had been unable to come to any decision, and asked the attorneys to again come before the Court to argue both sides of the question.
Re-argument began in December Of 1953. Heading the contingent of lawyers who defended the South's segregation laws was the Wall Street corporation counsel, John W. Davis, whose firm represents such clients as Standard Oil, American Telephone and Telegraph, International Paper Company, Guaranty Trust, and the banking House of Morgan. A former assistant U.S. attorney general, Member of Congress, and Ambassador to Great Britain, Davis in previous appearances before the Supreme Court had succeeded in winning a number of dismissals of anti-trust prosecutions.
"I always go for the jugular vein!" Davis said of his courtroom technique. He refused to accept any fee for defending the segregation laws. "The differences between the races are as undeniable as the differences between the sexes, and this fact is the key to an understanding of history."
On May 17, 1954, however, the Supreme Court by a vote of 5 to 4 took a different view, and did what it had stubbornly refused to do ever since 1896 when it took the opposite view-it declared public school segregation unconstitutional.
"Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments," said the Court. "in the field of public education the doctrine- of 'separate but equal! has no place Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
No deadline was set by the court for an opening for school doors without discrimination. On the contrary, it called upon local school boards to adopt plans for "gradual desegregation", and left it to the U.S. district courts to decide whether or not these plans were adequate".
You can imagine-if you have not been an eyewitness-what a stir the Court's ruling caused everywhere that segregation holds sway.
Virtually all the Southern Congressmen and Senators in Washington, quite without regard to their oath of office to uphold the Constitution, affixed their signatures to a "Manifesto" pledging to oppose the Court's ruling "by all legal means". Typical of their public pronouncements was that of Senator James 0. Eastland of Mississippi, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security, who said on a television program that the Supreme Court's ruling against segregation was due to some members of the Court having been subjected to "Leftwing brainwashing".
The governors and attorneys general of the Deep Southern states pledged "eternal" opposition to the Court order, and called their legislatures into special session. South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and others made good their earlier threats to adopt laws abolishing their public school systems if and when the Court order were enforced. In addition, hundreds of new laws intended to "keep the Negro in his place" were feverishly enacted.
"The real purpose of the Supreme Court's decision against school segregation is to open the bedroom doors of our white women to Negro men!" state Senator Walter Givhan of Mississippi charged at a mass meeting. "The Negroes want to see to it that the nation gets a Negro Vice-president, so they can then assassinate the President and thus get a Negro President!"
Some Southern jurists were scarcely more reserved. In Texas, judge William H. Atwell threw out of his court the appeal of 19 Negro children that they had a right to enroll in a white school. Said the judge: "That would be a civil wrong, not a civil right."
In Florida, the state supreme court, in a 4 to 1 decision, - dared to hold that the U.S. Supreme Court had made a "great mistake" which would "retard rather than accelerate the removal of inequalities".
"Whether or not the doctrine of separate-but-equal has a place in the field of public education is a question of policy determinable by the legislature," Florida's Chief Justice Glenn Terrell opined. "it is not a judicial question, as I understand the canons of interpretation. Likewise the question of segregation is for the same reason a legislative rather than a judicial question.
"It is inconceivable that the Supreme Court will undertake to settle the question of segregation in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and other states, each of which has its peculiar problems with reference to the matter. It is further inconceivable that the Supreme Court would impose conditions on those states that neither the Congress nor any of the state legislatures have designed to impose on them, that none of them has asked for or want, that they are violently opposed to and have deep and decided convictions against."
All over the South, self-styled "White Citizens' Councils" sprang up. Officered mainly by bankers and businessmen, these Councils are a sort of plain-clothed Ku Klux Klan. While threatening a "Century of Litigation" in opposition to court orders against segregation, they specialize in the economic lynching of Negroes and whites who work for desegregation, and arc not above indulging in old-fashioned lynchings, ambuscades, dynamiting, etc. The Southern states and Washington, D.C., obligingly issued corporate charters to these councils as tax-exempt "educational societies". In Georgia, for instance, one such charter was awarded to Dr. Marvin Head, Klan leader of Griffin, and another to Klan leader Jack Dempsey of Augusta.
The announced purpose of these Councils is to "stop desegregation before it begins". Alston Keith, chairman of the Dom County, Mississippi, group, said they were going to "make it difficult, if not impossible, for any Negro who advocates desegregation to find and hold a job, get credit, or renew a mortgage".
Immediately it became apparent that these were not idle threats. At Columbus, Mississippi, the Bank of Commerce informed Dr. Emmett Stringer, a Negro dentist and former president of the local NAACP., that it would no longer loan him any money. in addition, Dr. Stringer's mother began receiving anonymous nocturnal telephone calls saying: "Dr. Stringer is dead!"
At Belyoni, Mississippi, the Citizens' Council warned Negro mortician T. B. Johnson that he could never again obtain even one cent of credit in Bclyori-and added that he might be run out of town.
At Indianola, Mississippi, a sort of secondary boycott was organized by the Citizens' Council, which not only deprived Negro Dr. Clinton Battle of credit, but warned his patients that they would lose their jobs unless they stopped patronizing him.
Elsewhere in the South it is much the same, and in some instances Negro community leaders, their homes dynamited, have had to flee to the North. in an effort to counteract the economic sanctions imposed by the Citizens' Councils, groups of Negroes and whites have been formed in other parts Of the Country to render financial assistance to those victimized by the Councils.
Most spectacular during the first year following the Court's decision was the "National Association for the Advancement of White People, Inc.", headed by Bryant Bowles, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. Bowles, a former U.S. soldier, utilized low-flying aerostatics equipped with loudspeakers to mobilize mobs of from 5,000 to 10,000 whites in Delaware to attend harangues he staged in sports stadium. Bowles called upon white parents not to let their children attend any school to which a Negro had been admitted; so effective was the boycott that Delaware officials gave in and sent all such Negroes back to Negro schools.
A favorite Bowles technique was to hold his own three-year-old daughter on high and shout:
"This little girl will never attend school with a nigger so long as gunpowder will burn!"
Among the featured speakers at rallies staged by Bowles was none other than Sheriff Willis McCall of Florida-he who in 1951 had defeated the Supreme Court by emptying his pistol into two of the "Groveland Four" Negroes for whom the Court had ordered a new trial. Sheriff McCall and other speakers spoke frequently of impending "blood baths". Bowles claimed to have the support not only of such men as Talmadge of Georgia and Byrnes of South Carolina, but also the Texas oil millionaire, W. C. Hunt.
Maybe you think all this has to do with no more than a lunatic fringe of fanatics. But what do you think of the fact that the Gallup Poll, conducting a nation-wide survey of public opinion shortly after the Supreme Court decision against school segregation was handed down, found only 54 per cent supporting it?
Another straw in the wind was the election Of 1954 Of Strom Thurmond as Governor of South Carolina. Campaigning on a promise to keep the state's white schools lily-white, Thurmond won overwhelmingly, even though his name did not appear on the printed ballots, but had to be written in. (This is the same Thurmond who in 1948 campaigned for the Presidency of the U.S.A. as the nominee of the white supremacist "Dixiecrats".)
The year 1956 saw a further intensification of the struggle pro and con segregation. On January 27 Senators Eastland, Thurmond, and Johnston addressed a huge rally sponsored by the Citizens' Council of South Carolina, and Congressman Fred Vinson of Georgia, chairman of the House Preparedness Committee. Former Secretary of State James F. Byrnes was also present to hear Eastland charge that the anti-segregation chive was "backed by the communists", and Vinson call for a Constitutional Amendment enabling the states to segregate.
Congress itself appointed a subcommittee, chaired by Congressman James C. Davis of Stone Mountain, Georgia (whose district is a Klan stronghold), to probe desegregation as it was getting under way in the schools of the national capital. Davis proceeded to use his Congressional committee as a sounding board for the most rabid pro-segregation. Propaganda.
The Supreme Court, on the other band, struck another powerful blow at the foundations of segregation by ruling in 1955 that financial contributions to educational institutions that barred anyone because of race could no longer be tax-exempt.
A year later the state of Georgia affirmed an opposite public policy by announcing that any educational institution within its boundaries, which admitted both whites and Negroes, would be subjected to state taxation.
This was also the year of Clinton, Tennessee, where the professional rabble-rouser John Kasper appeared and provoked such a riot that Governor Frank Clement bad to send in two battalions of state guardsmen- equipped with tanks, to break it up. In the course of Kasper's trial on a charge of inciting to riot, his defense attorney, Ross Barnett, told the jury that Senator Eastland had advised him to "tell the jury what's happened to Washington". The Senator's news: "In the nation's capital 874 schoolchildren have loathsome and contagious diseases, and 97 per cent of these children are Negroes." A Kasper supporter, Joseph Diehl, disrupted the proceedings by distributing through the courtroom a large sheet containing photographs of 50 Jewish community leaders and an inflammatory text headed "Asiatic Marxists". An all-white jury, significantly, convicted Kasper.
By the beginning Of 1957, the Gallup Poll found nationwide public support, for an end to school segregation had risen from 54 to 63 per cent....
If you don't already know what happened as a result of nine Negro students enrolling in 1957 in the formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.A., you are really out of this world. There is no need to go into any great detail here, for if you have a special interest you can find literally tons of reading matter on the subject, in newspapers, magazines, and books, in many languages. But here are just a few of the highlights:
There seemed to be every prospect for peaceful adjustment to the new situation by the student body, until Governor Orval Faubus, on the eve of the 1957-8 school year, went on television to conjure up visions of violence and bloodshed. To avoid this, he said, he was obliged to order the Arkansas state militia to stand guard over the opening of the school. The militia men were under orders not to prevent white mobsters from preventing the Negro children from exercising the right which the Supreme Court had said the Constitution gives them to enter the school, but to openly defy the Court by forcibly depriving the Negro children of that right. As was only to be expected under such circumstances, a white mob did surround the school, violently attacked Negro journalists and tried to terrorize the Negro students by spitting in their faces and threatening them with lynching -while the state militia smiled approval.
Day after day such scenes were repeated, until at length the international scandal moved President Eisenhower to send in Federal troops, with orders to uphold the right of the Negro children to enter. There had already been advance indications that Governor Faubus had acted not entirely on his own initiative, but rather as a volunteer to find out on behalf of the entire Southern officialdom just how far the Federal Government would go to enforce the Court ruling against segregation. Having succeeded beyond their fondest dreamt in provoking Washington to send in troops and draw the blood of Southern whites with bayonet pricks, the outrage of the politicos who owe their tenure in office to white supremacy knew no bounds.
"Eisenhower has lit the fires of hate!" orated Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on internal Security.
I wish I could cast one vote for impeachment right now!" said Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia.
"If I were Governor Faubus I'd proclaim a state of insurrection down there, and call out the state militia, and then I'd find out who's going to run things in my state!" said Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina, in a veritable call for civil war.
Such sentiments resounded in the halls of Congress, without sounding at all inhibited by the oaths of office taken by the speakers to uphold the Constitution. Nor did Congress at any time go so far as to even remind any of these Southern gentlemen of their oath.
On somewhat lower levels, Southern political and business circles were no less outspoken than their representatives in Congress.
"This is the darkest day in Southern history since the Reconstruction period!" said a speaker at the businessmen's Kiwanis Club of Marshall, Texas; after which the Kiwanians refrained from reciting their customary pledge of allegiance to the American flag.
In Alabama, where a gubernatorial election campaign was in progress, the four contenders vied with one another as follows:
Candidate 1: Wired Faubus congratulations.
Candidate 2: Promised to back Faubus "at all costs".
Candidate 3: Offered to go to jail to maintain segregation.
Candidate 4: Said he stood ready to die for segregation.
The incumbent Governor of Alabama, "Kissing Jim" Folsom, swore to disband his state's militia if Washington ever made any move toward inducting it into the Federal army with a view to using it to uphold the Court's decision.
In Florida, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force sent his four Air Medals and six battle stars back to Eisenhower as a protest against the sending of U.S. troops into Little Rock.
At Albany, Georgia, someone put the torch to the Albany State College for Negroes; the fire did 300,000 dollars' worth of damage.
At Ozark, Arkansas, a Negro boy was struck with a book and a Negro girl with a coat hanger, after which a white motorist tried to run them down with his car as they emerged from a formerly all white school.
At Nashville, Tennessee, rabble-rouser John Kasper took his stand on the steps of the War Memorial Building, which is inscribed with these words of America's World War I President, Woodrow Wilson: "America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured."
Against this backdrop, John Kasper said to the mob, which harkened to his call:
"The Constitution gives you the right to carry arms. If one of these niggers pulls a razor or a gun on us, we'll give it to 'em! When they fool with the white race they're fooling with the strongest race in the world, the most bloodthirsty race in the world!"
That night a blast of dynamite demolished Nashville's Hattie Cotton school, where a Negro girl had that day enrolled.
Elsewhere across the South, the inciters and dynamiters made themselves heard. The spirit thus stirred up in certain sectors of the white population was summed tip in the song improvised by a mob intent upon keeping Negroes out of a Louisville, Kentucky, school:
Stand firmly by your cannon, Let ball and grapeshot fly; Trust in God and Faubus, And keep your powder dry!
Most of the states in the Deep South lost no time passing laws which would close down their public schools in the event that U.S. troops were sent in to enforce the Supreme Court's order.
The august Senate of the United States took an interest in the proceedings through its Sub-committee on Internal Security, whose chairman Eastland went personally to Little Rock to cross-examine a white woman who had protected a Negro girl from the mob. Later, a packet of dynamite was found in the woman's garage.
The White House, having unwittingly stirred up the whole hornet's nest, refused to place the blame for the mob violence on the gubernatorial and Senatorial levels where it primarily belonged, preferring to inveigh instead against the mobsters themselves. At the same time, a special U.S. emissary was sent to the 82-nation Social and Humanitarian Committee of the United Nations to say that the events triggered by Little Rock were "only an episode in a great advance toward the elimination of racial discrimination!'. The American people and Government, the spokesman added, "have an open and active national policy against race discrimination'.
The American people by and large were more open and active than the Government. A public opinion poll found 74 per cent of the people in the Northern and Western states supported the use of Federal troops in support of the Supreme Court. In the South, the evidence was mixed. The Arkansas Gazette, which called in moderate tones for respect for the courts, lost only 10 per cent of its readers. Voting in 1957, the (white) voters of Little Rock elected seven city councilmen, six of whom were reputedly willing to abide by Supreme Court rulings. On the other hand, a baker lost his clients because his daughter fraternized with Negro students; and Faubus was re-elected Governor in 1958 with nearly 70 per cent of the total vote cast.
That same year, Senator Gore of Tennessee was reelected on a platform of respecting the Federal courts, winning out over opponents who advocated defiance.
Another straw born on the same wind was a resolution adopted, 33 to 1, by Southern university delegates to the National Student Congress, as follows:
"Though we are proud of the Southern community's way of life [racial separation-Author], we do not feel that a [school] system that denies equal opportunity to some Southern citizens is either necessary or desirable as a part of that way of life."
And yet something other than straws, borne by something other than the wind, brought the total number of blasted schools and synagogues to 47 during the fifteen-month period ending in May, 1958.
After three school years had come and gone after the Supreme Court's 1954 decision, its effect was being variously measured. The manner in which the courts were interpreting, and the justice Department enforcing, the 1955 mandate of the high court that desegregation proceed "with all deliberate speed", was hardly worth advertising.
Sources intent upon presenting the situation in a favorable light were able to do so by juggling the figures just a bit. Their progress report, covering the first three years, has it that, of the 9,004 school districts in the 17 states long segregated by law, 740 districts had admitted some Negroes to some white schools, leaving "only" 2,263 districts where whites and Negroes live but do not attend school together. The residents of the remaining 6,001 districts, these reports blandly explain, are either all white or all Negro; "and hence the question of segregated schools does not arise".
Any colorblind god, needless to say, did not fix the boundaries of these latter districts, but by highly color conscious white officials. Having thus achieved racial segregation on the primary level of residence, it is argued that all-white schools in all white districts, and all-Negro schools in all-Negro districts, is a natural phenomenon. Official circles in Washington, with a stake in showing that the problem is fast being solved, have been inclined to accept such gerrymandering of school districts without question, thus giving aid and comfort to those who would preserve segregation by this means.
There are 2,800,000 Negro grammar and high school students in the 17 Southern states and the national capital (constituting 24 per cent of the total school population in the area). Of these, only 122,000, or 4 per cent, found themselves in mixed schools by the beginning of the 1958-9 school year. Washington, D.C., boasted of being integrated, but actually a fifth of its Negro students were still in all-Negro schools.
Such desegregation as had taken place had occurred mostly in the states bordering the South; in the Deep South states, the doors of white schools were as tightly closed to Negroes as before, except that 1-5 per cent of the Negro students of Texas, and 0-003 per cent of those of North Carolina, had been admitted to white schools.
In the realm of higher education, in which the Court ruled against segregation in 1935, the picture was not much brighter. According to the U.S. Information Service, "Practically, Negro students are today admitted to certain faculties of universities of the majority of Southern states and the District of Columbia, and practically all the universities of the rest of the country." Actually, by the end of the 1957 term, only 109 of the 202 state supported white institutions of higher learning in the Southern states had let in any Negroes.
This will give you an idea what you might expect, if you are a Negro resident of a Deep South state, and decide to take the Supreme Court at its 193 5 word, even two decades thereafter:
In 1956, Autherine Lucy, a 26-year-old library science student, won a three-year court battle for admission to the University of Alabama. Mobbed by a portion of the student body, she was suspended from school; and though the courts eventually reaffirmed her right to enroll, by that time she had chosen marriage instead.
In 1957, two Negroes seeking to enroll in Texarkana College were blocked by a mob Of 400 whites, and the police refused to give the Negroes any protection "The results of integration are sure to be degeneration of the schools," the president of the college proclaimed publicly. In 1958, when the Rev. Clennon King, Negro, sought to enroll at the University of Mississippi, he was taken into custody by the police, held incommunicado, examined by two physicians before Chancellor Stokes Robinson, Jr., and committed to the state lunatic asylum. In the course of the sanity hearing, Chancellor Coleman ejected the Rev. King's attorney, Sidney Tharp, with the allegation that Tharp was "under the influence of alcohol or goof?balls". Governor J. P. Coleman seized upon the occasion to hold a Press conference, at which he voiced defiance of the Supreme Court. A bit later, steps were taken to evict Rev. King from his home, whereupon he placed an advertisement in the Biloxi?Gulfport Daily Herald offering all his household goods for sale, and announcing that he was giving up his post as professor at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College and "going back to Africa in search of the freedom our African?American people lost 339 years ago".
As the 1958-59 school year approached, some dilatory voices spoke out from the Federal bench, giving enormous encouragement to the forces intent upon perpetuating segregation. Whatever their intent, the effect of these court rulings was to say, "Mobism does pay", and "Perhaps the segregationists are correct".
First to speak in this vein was U.S. District Judge Harry J. Lemley, who on June 20 gave the Little Rock school board permission to throw the nine Negro students out of Central High, and keep them out for two and a half years.
Apparently taking his cue from judge Lemley, U.S. District judge Sterling Hutcheson on August 4 gave the Prince Edward County school board of Virginia permission to wait seven and a half years before making a move to comply with die Supreme Court's order to open the doors of its white schools to a few Negroes.
Judge Lemley's ruling was appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans. There the attorney for the Little Rock school board, A. F. House, said frankly that much of the prolonged violence in Little Rock had been due to the fact that, at the outset of it, Governor Faubus and U.S. Attorney?General William P. Rogers had publicly proclaimed that no one would be prosecuted for resorting to violence in opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling.
"You can imagine what that did in a place where the storm was already raging," House said.
Thurgood Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP. and victor in many a courtroom battle against segregation, summed up the situation thus: "The Governor can do what he wants to. The school board can ignore its duties. But a Federal court cannot deny an individual his Constitutional rights because of threats of violence."
On August 18 the Court of Appeals agreed with Marshall, reversed judge Lemley, and ordered Little Rock to let the Negro students go back to Central High. Then the court gave the school board time to appeal to the Supreme Court.
On August 27 the Arkansas legislature, summoned to a special session by Faubus, voted 94 to 1 (representative Ray Smith dissenting), and the state senate ratified, 33 to 0 a law requiring the closing of any and all mixed schools.
That same day, the U.S. Air Force Base at Little Rock announced that the base school operated with Federal funds for its personnel would be segregated.
Like fuel upon the fire came the words of President Eisenhower the following day. After first refusing to express his personal opinion about the Supreme Court's decision against school segregation, the President went on to say that lie "could disagree very violently with a decision", and that this would make his duty to enforce the decision "much more difficult to carry out". A bit later he denied the report of a national news magazine that he had told intimates he regretted the Court decision; but he admitted that be "might have said" enforcement should slow down.
Thus caught between the fire of Little Rock and the White House, the Supreme Court was itself called upon to define precisely the meaning of its mandate Of 1955 that school desegregation proceed 41 with all deliberate speed".
It decided, to the eternal credit of the country, that there was no legitimate ground for postponement of the integration orders.
Segregationist Senators, Governors and lesser politicos screamed defiance.
"The South will not accept this outrage which a communist dominated Government is trying to lay on us!" declared Rev. Wesley Prudent, president of the Arkansas White Citizens' Council, in a typical statement. "We will carry on the fight for our freedom to govern ourselves for a thousand years if necessary. And posterity will say of us This was Our finest hour!'
Both Arkansas and Virginia went ahead with their plans to close all schools affected by integration orders; in the latter state 13,000 students were left without instruction by the closure of nine schools. Movements to reopen the schools on a segregated basis under the aegis of "private" corporations were nipped in the bud by the Supreme Court which, without waiting for a test case to be brought, declared forthrightly that the rights of Negro students "can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executives or judicial officers, or nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation, whether attempted ingeniously or ingenuously".
Undaunted, segregationists sought to give instruction to locked-out white students by providing lessons through television, and conducting classes under church auspices. Such efforts were highly unsatisfactory, and opposition to this form of "massive resistance" began to make it felt. Even so, the moderate segregationist Congressman Brooks Hays of Arkansas, a veteran of eight terms in the House, was defeated by the militant segregationist Dr. Dale Alford, who had the backing of Faubus. In Virginia, the all-powerful political machine of Senator Harry Byrd captured 70 per cent of the votes with an endorsement of massive resistance to integration, but Dr. Louise 0. Wenger, mother of five and advocate of compliance with the court orders, did receive 113,000 votes.