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School Desegregation. Jennifer Satola Mark Soeder. Brown v. Board of Education 1954. Linda Brown, age 7, from Topeka, Kansas Traveled by foot & bus 21 blocks to her all-black elementary school Had to walk through a train yard There was an all-white school 7 blocks away

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school desegregation

School Desegregation

Jennifer Satola

Mark Soeder

brown v board of education 1954
Brown v. Board of Education 1954
  • Linda Brown, age 7, from Topeka, Kansas
  • Traveled by foot & bus 21 blocks to her all-black elementary school
  • Had to walk through a train yard
  • There was an all-white school 7 blocks away
  • Her father sued after the principal of the white school wouldn’t allow her to attend
  • 200 plaintiffs from three states & the District of Columbia were represented in the case
  • Thurgood Marshall, chief legal counsel for the NAACP, represented the plaintiffs
supreme court decision
Supreme Court Decision

“We come to the question presented: Does segregation of public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does…. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone…. We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” -Earl Warren


Congressmen provide conflicting viewpoints on school desegregation

map of school desegregation 1964
Map of School Desegregation 1964
  • The decision did not bring public school segregation to an immediate end.
  • In 1955, the Supreme Court issued a second ruling, calling for the integration of schools “with all deliberate speed”.
  • In 1964, less than 11% of African American students in 17 southern states and DC were attending integrated schools.

Thurgood Marshall discusses how long he thinks integration will take place.

little rock crisis 1957
Little Rock Crisis 1957
  • In 1957, 75 African American students filled out applications to enter Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • The Board of Education narrowed the number to 9, all of whom had strong educational backgrounds.
  • The 9 students, who were known as the Little Rock Nine, met much community resistance as they tried to enter the school.

“For a moment, all I could hear was the shuffling or their feet. Then, someone shouted. ‘Here she comes. Get ready…’ The crowd moved in closer and then began to follow me, calling me names. I still wasn’t afraid. Just a bit nervous. Then my knees started to shake all of a sudden and I wondered whether I could make it to the center entrance a block away. It was the longest block I ever walked in my life.” - Elizabeth Eckford

eisenhower responds
Eisenhower Responds

“In that city, under the leadership of demagogic extremists, disorderly mobs have deliberately prevented the carrying out of proper orders from a federal court. Local authorities have not eliminated that violent opposition and, under the law, I yesterday issued a proclamation calling upon the mob to disperse. This morning the mob again gathered in front of the Central High School of Little Rock, obviously for the purpose of again preventing the carrying out of the court’s order relating to the admission of Negro children to that school.” – President Eisenhower


“And then the whole school was ringed with paratroopers and helicopters hovering around. We marched up the steps in this circle of soldiers with bayonets drawn…. And walking up the steps that day was probably one of the biggest feelings I’ve ever had. I figured I’d finally cracked it.” – Ernest Green

segregation in cleveland public schools
Segregation in Cleveland Public Schools

Cleveland Public Schools remained segregated long after Brown v. Board of Education. Pictured here is Central High School, an all-black school. Just a few blocks away was East Tech, a predominantly all-white school.

reed v rhodes 1976
Reed v. Rhodes (1976)

In 1976, Federal Judge Frank Battisti issued the Reed v. Rhodes decision. The Court found evidence of over 200 separate incidents of racial segregation in the Cleveland Public Schools. In finding for the plaintiffs, the Court rejected the school board's defense of "neighborhood schools." The Court eventually ordered a desegregation plan that consisted of educational programs to correct the effects of segregation, integration of teachers and professional staffs, safety and security measures, and, most controversially, student reassignment to promote desegregation.

reactions to the decision
Reactions to the Decision

Cleveland Teachers Union representative James Omeara explains why people are resisting busing.

Student Mark Nakon decribes his expectations for desegregation.

Those against the busing decision wait at Burke Lakefront Airport for the arrival of Jimmy Carter on September 8, 1976.

reactions to the decision13
Reactions to the Decision…

Members of C.O.R.K. (Citizens Opposed to Rearranging Kids) protest along the Detroit-Superior Bridge prior to the start of the school year in 1979.

busing begins
Busing Begins

Parents rode with their children as they were transported to Nathaniel Hawthorne School. These students previously attended Moses Cleaveland School.


The Welcoming Committee at John Marshall High School were on hand to greet the 1,398 black high school students who were bused from JFK. Meanwhile, Marshall bused 817 white students to attend JFK. Marshall went from being 90% white to 63.9% black. JFK went from being all black to 61.4% black.


These four students are from the Waverly Elementary School on Cleveland’s West Sided. Newspapers reported that when schools opened in September 1979, the desegregation was peaceful. No problems were reported, although attendance rates were lower than usual for the first day of school. District-wide, attendance was at 77%. In the past, the average for the first day of school was 85%.