Brown vs. the Board of Education

The Southern Manifesto - March 1956

southern white segregationists saw the verdict as a ''clear abuse of judicial power''

they blamed the case for causing ''chaos and confusion'' and an ''explosive and dangerous condition''

they saw organisations such as the NAACP and the Supreme Court as ''outside meddlers''

Intentionally toned down racist rhetoric- showed self-awareness and self control

was created and signed by intellectuals such as Senator Thurmond and Senator J.William Fullbright

Invoked the 10th Amendment and appealed to Federalism "dual system of government"

invoked protection of parental rights to "direct the lives and education of their own children"

emphasised fighting school desegregation on a legal basis "we reaffirm our reliance on the constitution and the fundamental law of the land" and urged southerners to "scrupulously refrain from disorder and lawless acts"

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The Justices of the Supreme Court

Hugo Black and William Douglas as the most liberal judges

"segregation is a hangover from the days when the ***** was a slave"- Black

Stanley Reed- Kentucky pro-segregationist

Tom Clark - Texan and concerned about white Southern backlash

Felix Frankfurter - former counsel for NAACP, and Jewish, but advocated restraint

Court stalled for 6 months - searching for a politically safe way to overturn Plessey

New Chief Justice - Earl Warren - Californian - moderate liberal and nonpartisan

Eisenhower called the appointed of Warren his ''biggest damn fool mistake''

Warren, Black, Douglas, Burton and Minton formed a desegregation bloc

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Warren and the Verdict

avoided blaming the South - did not take ''precipitous action''

Warren intended the opinion to be ''short, readable, non-rhetorical, unemotional and non-accusatory"

"Education...is the very foundation of good citizenship"

Warren agreed with the negative psychological impact of school segregation

Footnote II was critised for psychologising

Warren led the sourt to a new constitutional position that promised to revitalise the meaning of equal protection under the 14th Amendment

"Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal"

Warren on the use of ''all deliberate speed'' in Brown II "there was so many blocks preventing an immediate solution of the thing in reality that best we could look for would be a progression of action''

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Background and Context

Plessy vs. Fergusson in 1896

some preexisting black universities such as Fisk

some small precedents such as the Murray vs Pearson case in 1936, forcing University of Marylan's law school to admit blacks

NAACP carefully selected appropriate cases and took them to the Supreme Court

Sweatt vs Painter case in 1950 - proved black law school of the University of Texas was underfunded and therefore unconstitutional

Mclaurin v Oklahoma in 1950 - George Mclaurin first denied entry, then forced to sit separately at the University of Oklahoma to get a Doctorate. Represented change in NAACP tactics from providing black education to attacking segregated education

Influenced by the ''Double V'' campaign

NAACO took 5 segregation cases to court in 1952

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Immediate Response

Southern states threatened to abolish schools, and some closed state schools for up to 5 years

Both state and private harrassment of the NAACP

Supreme Court gave no timetable until 1955 "all deliberate speed"

some white southerners created "White Citizen's Councils" in response

Southern Manifesto - only 3 southern Senators did not sign

continued the narrative of state's right's vs Federal intervention since reconstruction

overturned Plessy vs Fergusson and divided opinion

Ruling was one of the first which acknowledged social science results

Critics accused Clark, Chein and other psychologists who contributed to the case left their roles as scientists and became activists

Idea of ''outside interference'' allowed locals to dent responsibility and project racial violence onto people from another place, class or viewpoint

  • white southern massive resistance could have been avoided if:
  • failure to mould community consensus
  • failure to cultivate respect and support for the law
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Little Rock - The Background

Had already begun desegregation by 1956, e.g library and bus system.

Was chosen because its moderation made it a battleground for both sides- Arkansas Legislative Council concluded in 1957 that events were ''planned, schemed and calculated'' by the ''international Communist conspiracy''

Governor Francis Cherry replaced by the more volatile Orval Faubus in 1955

NAACP sponsored a petition to allow 9 black students in on a 6 year plan

began on the 4th September 1957, but black students did not enter the school until 23rd

Supreme Court expected upper south cities to set the pace for school desegregation

Blossom planned to create a new black (Horace Mann) and a new white (Hill) High School

successful desegregation of Hoxie, Arkansas, on the 11th July 1955

33 black students applied for Central High in January 1956, but none were accepted

Pine Bluff, Hot Springs and Fort Smith all drew up integration plans for 1957

all colleges and unis had begun admitting black students

6 blacks were appointed to Democratic State Committe by Faubus

15 of the state's 75 counties had no ***** students at all

much of Arkansas' ***** population inhabited the Arkansas Delta

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Little Rock - Quotes

MLK in his ''Letter From a Birmingham Jail'': "Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection" - had foreseen the crisis of minimum compliance

MLK on Supreme Court's implementation order "keystone in the structure that slowed school desegregation down to a crawl"

Virgil T. Blossom "The least amount of integration over the longest period"

Blossom on personally screening prospective black students at Central High "I know it is undemocratic, and I know it is wrong, but I am doing it "

NAACP on screening "inferiority, fear and intimidation"

Faubus' speech on the 2nd September 1957 - called the National Guard "To maintain or restore order and protect the lives and property of citizens"

Arkansas Democrat on Faubus "carrying the water of segregation on one shoulder and integration on the other without spilling a drop of either"

Faubus before the desegregation "Everyone knows no state law supersedes a federal law"

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Little Rock- Elizabeth Eckford

picture of Hazel Bryan taunting Elizabeth Eckford reached nationwide publicity - Eckford embodying innocent, demure young womanhoof and Bryan representing disorder and subversion

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The fears of the Southern white

worried that high school desegregation would lead to interracial relationships - teen pregnancies reached their 20th century peak in 1957

long term southern reactions to desegregation included white flight from inner city school districts

business elites:

  • challenges to racial order could have destabilised the system of power they had created
  • civic and business leader's claimed to represent reason and moderation
  • without good public schools, northern companies would not relocate managers to Little Rock

Preoccupation with manhood - strength and face-saving became an obsession with white Segregationists, as men fought for dominance for their interests

Male white moderates used a rhetoric of victimisation to express desires for respite from the authority of others

white gradualism and tokenism under the banner of ''minimum compliance''

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Role of the Media

proliferation of televisions reduced local autonomy by giving racial conflicts national and international visibility

Chicago Defender 1955

"this means the beginning of the end of the dual society in American life and the system of segregation which supports it"

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The Mother's League

orchestrated the harrassment of black students and worked to mobilise segregationist resentment 

August 27 - the Mother's League filed a suit in the Pulaski County Chancery Court - claiming ''a general state of confusion and unrest''

  • Faubus was the star witness, and testified he believed violence would occur
  • Chancellor Murray Reed ruled in favour and restrained the school board
  • school board petitioned the District Court- and on 30th August, Judge Ronald Davies upheld the petition- detached from local politics and upheld the law
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Longer-term Response

Little Rock's Public high schools were closed in Sept 1958

middle-class white women organised the Women's Emergency Committee to Open our Schools (WEC) - political pressure group which supported liberalism and graudlised integration

Public parks were closed on the 1st January 1959 and remained closed until 1965

Eisenhower continually failed to publicly support the Brown decision - feared mass Southern resistance

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types of resistance

white gradualism and tokenism under the banner of ''minimum compliance''

  • MLK ''lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection''
  • MLK called Brown II ''a keystone in the structure that slowed school desegregation down to a crawl''
  • minimum compliance allowed school districts to maintain that they were following the law - Virgil T Blossom was the architect of this as superintendant of schools
  • Blossom, the black editor of the Arkansas State Press - "the least amount of integration ovwer the longest period"
  • Fort Smith, North Little Rock and Hot Springs all drew up plans which delayed integration until the state capital made the first move

mass resistance - grabbed more headlines but less effective

  • resistance more severe in the lower south in communities with a black majority
  • militant segregationist voice in Arkansas came from people with little social standing
  • the focus on 1 high school meant that segregationists could marshall their resources
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the Case Study of Hoxie, Arkansas

desegregated for financial reasons in June 1955. Vote was -passed through the school board unanimously

blacks only made up 1% of the population

Kunkel Edward Vance, superintendant, called the desegregation ''right in the sight of God''

11th July 1955- first day of integrated teaching

desegregation a success - Life magazine documented it but also attracted unwanted attention from other segregationists

White reaction

  • Herbert Brewer elected the chair of the Citizen's Committee
  • petitioned the Hoxie school board
  • school board opposed but still closed 2 weeks early
  • led to a pooling of segregationist resources and the creation of the Associated Citizen's Councils of Arkansas (ACCA) 
  • held a segregation rally with 350 attendees in mid-August which was sponsored by White America and Brewer

however, local segregationist attempts failed and the schools reopened on the 24th October after the school board succeeded in getting an injuction against segregationist groups

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The Selection of the Little Rock 9

33 black students applied in January 1956 to 4 different white schools

Blossom initially denied the request of the 9 students to attend Central High, along with NAACP activist Daisy Bates

70 black high school students indicated an interest in transferring to Central High for Sept 1957 

  • screened for an IQ over 100, personality and social skills (at Blossom's behest)
  • Blossom asserted he would make the final decision "I know it is undemocratic, and I know it is wrong, but I am doing it"
  • screening instilled a sense of inferiority, fear and intimidation
  • Blossom narrowed it down to 32 and rigorously interviewed them and told them they would not be able to participate in any sports activities at Central High
  • with his autocratic approach, Blossom did nothing to prepare the white community for desegregation
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Faubus- an enigma

Was influenced by socialism and joined the liberal reformist admin. of Gov Sid McNath in 1949- and actively sought 

speech on the 2nd September - called the National Guard to ''maintain or restore order and to protect the lives and property of citizens''

used to steer clear of racial controversies

failed to even mention segregation in his inaugural address in January 1955

was the target of extremists - the Arkansas Faith lampooned the Governor from its first issue in 1955, calling him ''Awful Faubus''

painted his competitor, James Johnson, head of the White Citizen's Councils, a ''purveyor of hate''

Faubus was the first governor to appoint Negroes to the state Democratic central committee

(black) Arkansas Democrat newspaper opinion on Faubus "wirthout peer in the art of carrying the water of segregation on one shoulder and the water of integration on the other without spilling a drop of either''

Faubus had previously said ''everyone knows no state law supersedes a federal law''

finally decided to throw in his lot with the segregationists- but not to openly advocate it

his fence-sitting strategy worked, and he was elected to 5 terms in office

Faubus became more reckless and cavalier when it came to opposing integration due to his electoral success on the issue

he kept the National Guard in place and flirted with open rebellion for 17 days - keeping the Negroes out until thr 23rd September

''minimum compliance had turned a potential moderate into a potent enemy''

Faubus declared plans to privatise Little Rock's public school system and therefore block Negroes ''sound and workable''

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Little Rock- reopening

High Schools were reopened in August 1959- only 4 black students attended previously segregated schools

token integration prevailed until the mid-1960s

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Capital Citizen's Council

At its peak only had 500 paying members

contributed to the bipolarisation of opinion in Little Rock

newspaper ad ''if you ...integrate Central High...would the ***** boys be permitted to solicit the white girls for dances?''

never enjoyed the support of Arkansas' ''substantial'' middle class

suffered from factionalism after Robert Brown left with dissenters and formed the States' Rights' Council of Little Rock

Brown told Faubus ''as sovereign head of a State... you are immune to federal court orders''

urged parents to ''disrupt the vile schemes'' of a ''small clique of white and ***** revolutionaries.''

did not condone phyical resistance but warned of violence and bloodshed at every turn, helping to precipitate it

at least partially responsible for the white mob which appeared so often outside Central High

formed the ''Freedom Fund for Little Rockk' and toured the South raising money to pay the legal fees of 75 people arrested during the disorders

attempted to equate the NAACP and school desegregation with Communism

Contributed to The Citizens Council newspaper, a South-wide segregationist newspaper

CCC opened private T.J Raney High School in October 1958. The ''Little Rock Private School Corporation'' recieved funding from sympathisers throughout much of the South - $175,000 within a month

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The Troops

Eisenhower federalised the National Guard and ordered in 1,000 men from the 101st Airborne Division

On November 27th 1957, the last of the Army forces were withdrawn

a shrinking contingent of federalised national guardsmen guarded the students until the 29th May 1958

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James Meredith

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The Blossom Plan

''Blossom Plan'' - BEFORE Little Rock Crisis

  • 2 new schools proposed - Horace Mann High School in the black Eastern city
  • Hall High School in the affluent white western suburbs - supposedly without racial designation
  • elementary school desegregation planned for 1960
  • divided the NAACP board
  • Blossom then changed the plan and allowed students to be allocated outside of catchment areas e.g black students to be assigned to Horace Mann even though they lived closer to Central High
  • allowed whites to opt out of attending Horace Mann
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Robert B Pattinson - 1963 speech

Head of White Citizen's Councils movement

26th October 1963 - Jackson, Miss

''the immediate and pressing danger...was the potential flood of ***** invasion into our schools, parks, swimming pools...''

''in less than two years 65 of our eighty-two counties in Mississippi were organised, with a membership of over 80,000''

television and radio programme ''the Citizen's Council Forum''

''The Citizen'' established

''integrationist groups are left-wing, power-mad organs of destruction that bring only ill will and hardship to the ***** people''

''an outstanding accomplishment... is the channeling of popular resistance to integration into lawful, coherent and proper modes''

''there are no white spectators, for if racial amalgamation comes about there will be no white survivors''

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Frankfurter's annotated draft decree

8th April 1955

''no student shall be denied admission to any public school because of his race, the respective lower courts are to require that any new or reorganised school districts to be established by local authorities shall be geographically compact, continguous and non-gerrymandered''

first proposed the ''all deliberate speed' phrase

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Klarman and the Backlash Thesis

Kentucky - blacks attending integrated schools rose from 0% in 1954 to 54% by 1964

''defiance of Brown was replaced...with evasion''

Elementary and Secondary Education Act - 1965 - increased federal spending on public education - integration became a condition for the receipt of federal funds

only 5% increase in white northern support for Civil Rights between 1954 and 1959 to 59%

inspired further lawsuits - NAACP filed 60 desegregation petitions with school boards in the Deep South during the summer of 1955

points to elimination of McCarthyism as revitalising the CR movement in the 1960s

shift of rural and low income whites from support of economic reform to social conservatism

''postwar rural populism... fell victim to the race issue''

Big Jim Folsons' racial progrssivism was defeated 3 to 1 in the election for Democratic national committeeman- 1956

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Klarman and the Backlash Thesis II

lower-class whites tended to switch allegiance from Folson to Wallace - who exploited post-Brown racial hysteria to a T

Brown compliance was much higher in areas of low black population - e.g northwest Arkansas

voting boundaries favoured rural whites

Governor Griffin of Georgia stirring up hatred in Little Rock - expressed his shock that any southern Governor with troops at his disposal would allow school integration (Faubus)

Faubus - Arkansans would approach him and ask why their schools were about to be integrated when Georgia's were not

many moderate Little Rock white residents rallied around Faubus once Eisenhower had sent in the 101st Airborne Division

Faubus appeared beside Churchill, de Gaulle and Truman on a Gallup Poll list of 10 most admired world statesmen

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Faubus' role

Klarman: ''Faubus manufactured a racial crisis that was in no sense inevitable''

''it was the posting of guardsmen outside the school that formented the mob atmosphere''

''the lesson for other southern politicians was clear: the more extreme a politician's resistance to the civil rights movement, the greater the rewards he might expect at the polls'

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Ross Barnett in Miss

  • spoke openly and proudly of his WCC membership
  • promised there would be no integrated schools so long as he was governor
  • attributed the downfall of the Egyptian culture to the 'mongrelization' of the races
  • won a landslide victory in the 1959 Miss Dem gubernatorial primary

In the case of James Meredith

  • stood to gain politically from obstructing the order from the Appeals court which mandated admitting James Meredith into Ole Miss
  • declared his willingness to go to jail rather than comply
  • whites and political heirarchy lined up in solidarity
  • twice blocked the entrance of Meredith into Ole Miss
  • events spun out of Barnett's control- 2 were killed and hundreds more wounded in a full-scale race riot
  • Barnett became the dominant political figure in Miss

It became virtually impossible for a white politician in Miss post Brown decision to appear as ''too extreme'' on the segregation issue

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the case of Bull Connor - Klarman

resurrected his political career after being ousted by white business moderates in 1953

regained his seat on the city commission in 1957

gave the KKK a 15-minute ''open season'' on the Freedom Riders

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the case of George Wallace - Klarman

was not a fire-breathing white supremacist by nature - had been 'soft' on segregation in his early career

Wallace had strongly supported Folsom's populist economic platform

Wallace perceived the political imperative of breaking with Folsom on the race issue by the mid-1950s

opponent in 1958 in the Democratic run-off primaries

  • Attorney General John Patterson - banned the NAACP from Alabama
  • received endorsement of the KKK
  • Wallace unwittingly became the candidate of moderation and won black support from the cities
  • Patterson easily won, and Wallace stated ''they out-niggered me that time, but they will never do it again''

1962 campaign - largest number of votes for any candidate in Alabama history ''Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"

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James Meredith applies to Ole Miss

  • spend 9 years in the Air Force and was entitled to a University education under the GI Bill
  • ''I am fully prepared to pursue it all the way to a degree from the University of Mississippi''
  • sought assistance from the NAACP upon his rejection
  • was never involved with any CR organisations more than neccessary

James Meredith became the first black student to attend Ole Miss on the 31st Sept 1962, after a night of rioting on Sunday night

  • 2 dead and dozens injured

Meredith graduated on the 18th August 1963 after a year of constant harrassment#

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Ross Barnett and Ole Miss

Barnett believed he could legally block the decisions of the Supreme Court under the 10th Amendment

  • state exercised all powers not specifically delegated to the fedweral government - including education
  • integration was therefore a state and not a federal matter
  • however, 14th Amendment superseded the 10th Amendment ''no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws''

Probably still felt Kennedy was in their debt because the South had backed him for his vice-presidential nomination in 1956

described Meredith as ''unqualified, morally and mentally'' to attend the university

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Legacy of James Meredith

Cleve McDowell was accepted to the law school the next year, but bought a gun through fears for his safety and was expelled

in 1992, Supreme Court reached its conclusion in the Ayers case (that was first introduced in 1976) that education in Miss was still, to all intents and purposes, segregated

''nine out of ten blacks at the University of Mississippi is exactly who I calculated to be there''

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Why did Meredith do it?

  • was an individual, rather than group effort, and was extremely isolating
  • ''I did not come back to Miss to go to a university. I came back to Mississippi to break the system of white supremacy
  • doubting Kennedy's sincerity over the ''Civil Rights Plank'' - he decided to exploit this new faux commitment
  • was of partiallly white Mississippian descent and felt he had been denied opportunities that blood relatives received
  • ''three of my four grandparents were 100% white''
  • Idea of ''Divine Responsibility'' 
  • ''the only issue to me was whether I was a citizen''
  • actions can be seen as a quest for full citizenship for black Americans
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harrassment of Meredith

guarded by the ''Peanut Patrol'' 16 soldiers in 4 jeeps which always had to be within 100 yards of him

around 200 troublemakers - in November, the chancellor addressed the male population of the university and announced a get tough policy - 5 were expelled

******** resister circulated a newssheet called the ''Rebel Underground'' - ''disobedience to tyranny is obedience to God''

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Badger and the Southern Manifesto

aimed to coerce wavering politicians into defiance of the Brown verdict

Richard Russell of Georgia, Strom Thurmond and Harry Byrd of Virginia

Russell thought that if the 5 or 6 southern senators who were preparing to support Brown could by persuaded into signing the Southern Manifesto, it would force the Court to reconsider imposing desegregation

Carl Elliott (Alabama) ''you were either with them or against them. And if you were against them, you were gone''

Little Rock congressman Brooks Hays ''Faubus..confronted the two of us...with the idea that if we did not do something...that we would find...the KKK and the Citizen's Council groups taking over the political life of the state''

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L.B Johnson and the Southern Manifesto

  • refused to sign the Southern Manifesto
  • Richard Russell ''he was a leader and he had a different responsibility in that degree. It wasn't held against him...''
  • had previously employed conventional segregationist rhetoric to secure his seat
  • appealed to Northern liberals by not signing the manifesto
  • dismissed the Manifesto as 'for home consumption'
  • relatively low ***** population in Texas
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who didn't sign the SM?

  • majority of Texan congressmen
  • Jack Brooks and Jim Wright - 'new generation' of Southerners who had been shaped by the Depression and WWII
  • Wright - Christian principles demanded that he not sign ''hatred is evil in the sight of God. The ***** is a child of God, as am I and my kinsmen'' 
  • Albert Thomas - had a role in the passage of the Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938
  • Joe Kilgore - had alot of Hispanic voters in his constituency
  • Bruce Alger (on the far right)- fervent apostle of individualism - hated the Democrats (and therefore their bill)
  • non-signers tended to be war vets and representing the major urban centres
  • Sam Rayburn - considerable political influence in Texas
    • ''delay it coming into operation for as long a time as possible'
    • did not like divisive sectional issues
    • encouraged fellow Texans to avoid signing the Manifesto
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Al Gore on the Southern Manifesto

''the most spurious, inane, insulting document of a political nature claiming to be legally founded I had ever seen''

path of racial moderation in Tennessee was easier than in the Deep South

greater percentage of voting age blacks were registered

both senators and governor chose to seek public support for compliance with the law of the land

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Judge Brady's speech on Brown

  • Missisippi circuit judge
  • speech later dubbed ''Black Monday'' (1955) - influential segregationists literature throughout the South

''these new deal, square deal, liberated, black qualified electors are determined to indoctrinate the Southern ***** with this ideal''

''the American *****...knows his weaknesses and shortcoming...he furthermore realizes that he can ameliorate these inherent deficiences by intermarriage''

thought that Brown would inspire intermarriage

Anders Walker - historian

  • enabled them to claim that blacks were the agents of wrongdoing
  • played on social Darwinian fears
  • resurrected the cult of southern womanhood
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Brown - the importance of footnote 11

  • cited specific scientific evidence showing that black children were not agents of destruction but victims of southern white oppression
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'science' of segregationists

Anders Walker

  • Kilpatrick ''The Southern Case for School Desegregation'' (1962)
  • used to validate segregationist claims of black immorality, stupidity and criminality
  • disparities in marriage rates as a sign of immorality
    • in fact, there were high numbers of common law marriages and different familial structures due to the impact of slavery
  • illegitimacy rates also mentioned - study by G.B Johnson in 1944 ''the illegitimacy rate among *****es in this country is roughly ten times the illegitimacy rate among whites''
  • The Citizen's Council (official newspaper of the WCC movement) - February 1957 "approximately one fourth of the ***** school children are themselves illegitimate''
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marriage law changes after Brown

  • introduction of a series of laws that increased marriage regulation throughout the South
  • increased regulations on birth certificates, meaning out-of-wedlock births were recorded
  • 1st July, 1958 - Louisana passes a law requiring individuals to present copies of their original birth certificates and recent medical certificates upon applying for a marriage licence
    • medical certificates had to certify against STDs and be signed by a physician

Worst cases in Miss (of course)

  • 1956 - outlawed common law marriages
  • Baton Rouge Morning Advocate - 1st April 1956 ''the theory of the bill was to set up unfavourable moral background as a basis for segregation''
  • limited groups of individuals who could perform ceremonies
  • How did this affect illegitimacy rates amongst blacks?
    • 1955 - 212 per 1000
    • 1959 - 238 per 1000

Arkansas and Louisiana passed acts requiring primary school aged children to provide birth certificates

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