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African American Education
Why was education targeted by the NAACP?
It was obvious that whilst children were being educated separately, they weren't being educated equally
could highlight that segregation was illegal in terms of Plessy v Ferguson, 1896.
In 1949, South Carolina spent an average of $179 a year educating a white child in comparison to $43 a
year for a black child.
It was thought that by improving education for African Americans, it was a step towards improving their
lives as they would have better access to good jobs and secure incomes.
How was education targeted?
Sweatt v. Painter, 1950 Sweatt was a black student hoping to study law at the University of Texas
segregated and so he was refused entry. The NAACP challenged this and argued Sweatt was entitled to
an education equal to whites at the Law School, the Texan courts ordered the creation of a new school
specifically for black law students rejected by the NAACP and taken to Supreme Court, they agreed
with NAACP ordered University of Texas Law School to accept Sweatt as a student.
Brown v. Board of Education, 1954 Brown took the state of Kansas to court for failing to provide
adequate education for his daughter forced to attend all-black school that was 20 blocks away from
her home instead of local white school. The NAACP took the case to SC after three years of battles it
was decided unanimously that segregation was illegal in American schools marked an end to `separate
but equal' doctrine.
Brown (II), 1955 In the first year after the Brown case, little de facto change occurred. The NAACP
asked the Supreme Court for a timetable for the desegregation of southern schools `should occur
with all deliberate speed' For NAACP this was too vague; and for Southern racists it meant further
Important: Change of leadership in 1953 Earl Warren became the new Chief Judge more sympathetic
towards civil rights issues and managed to persuade others that segregation in education could no longer
What was the reaction to the Brown case?
Many blacks believed it was the beginning of the end of segregation led to an increase in local
activism by groups like NAACP and CORE.
The White Citizens Council was set up to demand the segregation continued in schools raised money
to support white state schools that decided to become private to avoid desegregation and campaigned
for election of local politicians that were strongly opposed to desegregation.
Revival in KKK activity in 1955, Emmett Till (14 year black boy) was lynched and his murderers were
fond not guilty by an all white jury.
Sustained attack on NAACP banned in Alabama and 48/50 branches closed in Louisiana.
Senator Harry F. Byrd called on white southerners to put up `massive resistance'. Led 101 southern
congressmen to sign `the Southern Manifesto' in 1956 argued the Brown ruling was unconstitutional
because the constitution didn't mention education.
Eisenhower refused to comment on ruling criticised in private thought legal change wouldn't change
hearts and minds of southern racists.
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By 1957, only 750 of 6,300 southern school districts had desegregated only 3% of black students in
the south were in mixed schools in 1958, 58% of black children remained in segregated schools de
jure change = limited.…read more