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Advancing Creative Solutions to Assure Fairness and Excellence in Education
 

SEF believed then and it believes now that a diverse teaching force is necessary to ensure excellence as well as parity in Americas educational system, and that a diverse teacher workforce benefits all students not minority students alone.
Patterns of Excellence: Promoting Quality in Teaching Through Diversity (2001)

1954-1972:
Massive Resistance

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1954On May 17, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the US Supreme Court overrules Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), ruling unanimously that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional because separate educational facilities were inherently unequal.
The public schools in the District of Columbia and Baltimore, Maryland begin widespread desegregation. A White school in Charleston, Arkansas also admits 11 Black students for the first time.
1955US Supreme Court sends segregation cases back to local courts to implement its school desegregation decree "with all deliberate speed." Some White schools in the Border South begin to admit Black students but almost none in the Deep South does so.
1956SEF sponsors a program to increase Black PhDs by granting scholarships to Southern universities. The program adds to Black leadership in education and further integrates the Southern state universities.
The first Black student, Autherine Lucy, enters the University of Alabama by court order but is expelled after three 3 days for "creating" riots by White students and adults.
Senator Walter George of Georgia introduces the "Southern Manifesto" denouncing Brown and pledging to resist and refuse to enforce it. Almost all Southern Congressmen will sign it.
1957Violence aimed at preventing school desegregation begins to mount in the South. A school in Nashville, Tennessee is bombed and the clergyman Fred L. Shuttlesworth is attacked in Birmingham, Alabama while trying to enroll his children in school.
In September, the Little Rock school crisis erupts. Mobs of White students prevent nine Black children from entering previously all-White Central High School. After unsuccessfully trying to persuade Arkansas governor Orval Faubus to give up his efforts to block desegregation, President Dwight Eisenhower orders federal troops into the city to enforce the federal court orders. It is probably the most serious clash between a state government and the federal government since the Civil War.
1958The National Defense Education Act passes US Congress as the first major federal investment in education since the end of Reconstruction. It will primarily provide funds for student loans, universities' science research, and poor schools, many in the South. A majority of the Southern members of Congress vote against passage, but Carl Elliott and Lister Hill of Alabama are co-sponsors.
1959 Arkansas Pre-schoolSEF launches a movement to establish public kindergartens across the South. Only Florida and Tennessee spend money for education below the first grade.
Southern legislatures continue to pass scores of laws to stop, evade, and frustrate the Brown decision. This kind of resistance will continue for at least another decade while acts of violence persist.
1960A wave of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, led mostly by Black college students, begins in Greensboro, North Carolina, in February. In less than two weeks, sit-ins spread to 15 cities in 5 Southern states. Within two years, the sit-in movement will flood the South and encourage Blacks to use nonviolent, direct action in other areas where discrimination is still common, under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many Black students will be expelled or attacked by angry Whites because of their participation.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a civil rights organization made up of Black and White college students, is founded in Raleigh, North Carolina, to facilitate sit-in activities across the South and later, it will help thousands of Blacks register to vote.
1961SEF initiates a program to assist historically Black colleges and universities to meet new accreditation standards.
Ten Black children peacefully integrated four White high schools in Atlanta, Georgia. On national television, President John F. Kennedy praises Atlantans and expresses the hope that school desegregation is entering a new, nonviolent stage. Meanwhile, civil rights groups and the US Justice Department become the major force to require school desegregation district by district across the South.
1962 SEF supports more than 100 summer training programs for teachers, principals, and college students across the South.
James Meredith with escortsUS Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders the University of Mississippi on September 30 to admit James H. Meredith, a Black student, after massive efforts to prevent his entrance. As US marshals attempt to escort Meredith to class, a riot erupts on the campus. National Guard troops eventually restore order.
1963SEF holds state and regional meetings to advance public kindergartens.
Alabama Governor George C. Wallace "stands in the schoolhouse door" in June trying to block the entrance of two Black students who were finally admitted to the University of Alabama. President John F. Kennedy is forced by Wallace to order National Guard troops to enforce the court order for admission.
1964US Congress passes the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in various areas of American life. The provisions covering education and employment will help integrate schools and faculties across the region.
In Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, the US Supreme Court decides unanimously that the Virginia county must reopen its schools, which had been closed for some 6 years. "There has been entirely too much deliberation and not enough speed in enforcing the constitutional rights we held in Brown," writes Justice Hugo Black.
1965SEF begins one of the South's few interracial internship programs which identifies committed young people and helps them promote new approaches to educational equity.
US Congress passes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty," the Act appropriates approximately $2 billion in its initial year to help states improve educational opportunities for poor children.
Congress also passes the Voting Rights Act. It will enable the election of thousands of Southern school board members during ensuing decades.
1966SEF supports studies and publications that assess the status of school desegregation and identify the opportunities and mandates of new federal laws.
Under the federal Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), Head Start begins in the South as a part of a national program providing pre-school care for low-income children. Over the next 25 years, the program will be established in approximately 1,400 community-based non-profit organizations and school systems, including many rural Southern communities.
1967SEF supports summer and supplemental school programs for "high-risk" students in more than 35 colleges and universities, especially at HBCUs.
Thirteen years after Brown (1954), only 16 percent of African American students are attending schools with White students in the 11 Southern states of the old Confederacy. In Maryland, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and other states on the border South, the rate of integration is 50 percent or above.
1968SEF makes grants in 13 Southern states to hold conferences promoting state programs of public kindergarten and additional grants to support the training of teachers and teacher aides for early childhood education.
South Carolina law enforcement officers kill three Black students and wound several others in February during a disturbance on the campus of South Carolina State College at Orangeburg. The tragedy began with a student protest against segregation at a local bowling alley.
1969US Supreme Court rejects the Nixon Administration's appeal for a delay in desegregating 30 Mississippi school districts. The Court ruled unanimously that school districts must immediately end racial segregation in schools. Less than 5 percent of the Black children in Mississippi are attending previously all-White schools. A year later 3 school districts would enroll Black children in formerly all-White public schools as federal marshals watched.
1970SEF supports local community work to implement school desegregation, HBCUs efforts to overcome problems with accreditation, and college faculty needs in infusing "Black studies" into the curriculum of Southern colleges.
More than 200 school districts across the South that had resisted desegregation since 1954 opened peacefully with newly desegregated classrooms. Another 175 districts continue to hold out for segregation. Most of these are involved in court cases on the controversial issue of student busing.
Violence by Whites against school desegregation continues. A mob of angry Whites carrying ax handles and baseball bats storm buses transporting Black school children to a formerly all-White high school in Lamar, South Carolina. On May 14, Mississippi law enforcement officers kill two Black youths during a racial disturbance at Jackson State College.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund files class action suit, Adams v. Richardson, seeking to withhold federal funds from university systems in 10 states, mostly in the South, under Title VI of Civil Rights Act.
1971 Mae Bertha Carter's ChildrenOn May 25, Jo Etha Collier, an 18-year-old Black girl, is shot dead in her hometown of Drew, Mississippi less than an hour after she graduated from desegregated Drew High School.
1972On November 16, two Black students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana are killed during a confrontation between Black students and law enforcement officers.
 
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