Segregation in Education

February 12, 2013 in 1960s-1970s

The Kentucky day law of 1904 was a state law that said that schools could not educate blacks and whites in the same school.  This led to unequal education for the students and hampered the types of cultural experiences the children could have.  Berea College, which was a college that had been desegregated since 1855, took the Commonwealth of Kentucky to the United States Supreme Court over the law.  Once there, the judges sided with Kentucky and reiterated that separate but equal was entirely legal as they had in Plessy v. Ferguson.  It was not until 1950 that Kentucky allowed voluntary integration of schools.  This was just prior to Brown v. Board of Education.

Everything did not miraculously change after the Brown v. Board case.  Integrating schools was a difficult task for all involved, from children to parents to teachers.  This difficulty was possibly the highest for the Little Rock Nine.  In 1957 these students, with government help, attempted to integrate their public high school.  After receiving much opposition from the Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus, the students eventually made it into the school, but it was not an easy task.  On their first day the students were escorted by the United States National Guard and the 101st Airborne division of the Army at the request of Little Rock’s mayor, Woodrow Wilson Mann, because such a crowd had gathered to block the students from entering.  Once inside the school the students found an abundance of opposition from the white students.  The students faced discrimination, by other students and adults, for the remainder of the year.

Some of the opposition came from national organizations.  One of the most extreme organizations was the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).  While the KKK was not incredibly prominent during the 1930s, they came back with a vengeance in the 1950s as an opposition to civil rights.  This terrorist group went as far as to get police, namely in Birmingham, Alabama, to side with them and carry out their tasks.  Members of the Klu Klux Klan have been found guilty of murdering and other hate crimes against civil rights members.  While Bull Connor was police commissioner the freedom rides were taking place.  Connor would allow Klan members to arrive at the scene and harass and ridicule riders for fifteen minutes before dispatching the police to take care of the situation.  The KKK also strongly targeted the NAACP and its leaders.  Countless times the Klan bombed members’ homes and NAACP headquarters.

Gender did not play a large role when it came to which people would be attacked, but it was noticed when fighting back.  Girls from the Little Rock Nine were harassed just as frequently, if not more, that males in the school.  Minnijean Brown recalls several girls locking her in a bathroom stall and dropping pieces of paper that were lit on fire onto her in an attempt to catch her on fire.  Adults were no better off, the Klu Klux Klan had no problem attacking women of either race, especially women that were aiding colored people.  Women had a large roll in the civil rights movement but often they are not recognized for their efforts and are merely in the shadow of their male counterparts when, in fact, they were incredibly necessary to the movement.


1 response to Segregation in Education

  1. I like how you mentioned in the last paragraph how similar the experiences were for adults and children. Children often adopt the same values and beliefs as their parents, so it is no surprise that children were just as hostile to their African-American peers.

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