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The Fight For Racial Equality In North Carolina

1792 words - 7 pages

Plessy vs. Ferguson was a landmark decision passed in 1896 that instituted the practice of 'separate but equal' in American society. The 'separate but equal' doctrine was an oppressive system of racial segregation which greatly lessened the rights of all minorities especially in public education. The fight for educational equality made public schools in North Carolina and other states in the south a major area of conflict. Wilma Peebles-Wilkins noted, 'Upward mobility through the educational structure is in keeping with the desires of post-World War II black Americans to enhance their economic, political, and social statuses.' There were many court cases in which organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and private citizens questioned the constitutionality of the dehumanizing practice of 'separate but equal'. The cases were filled on the pretence that segregation was not equal among the races which was a direct violation of the 14 Amendment of the constitution of the United States. After many noteworthy attempts to end segregation, on May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court of the United States of America rendered the Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas decision which ruled that ?segregated schools were inherently unequal.? The fight for equality and civil rights had been a long battle fought in America. Although a great victory had been won for minorities in America a greater battle was yet to come regarding the unwillingness of many states such as North Carolina to fail to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. According to Nelson H. Harris,? The Negro in North Carolina and other states has been forced to face all kinds of prejudices, hatred, contempt and discrimination.? In this report I will give chronology of the events that took place in order to implement integration in North Carolina during the 1950?s and 1970?s.
There was a great effort in North Carolina to halt integration. In 1955, Governor Luther H. Hodges reported to the North Carolina General Assembly that ?The mixing of the races forthwith in the public schools throughout the state cannot be accomplished and should not be permitted.? In 1955 the Pupil Assignment Act was passed which ?condemned and protested the Brown decision? . The Pupil Assignment Act was the first of many attempts of the North Carolina Legislature to halt integration. This act authorized local schools to implement administrative procedures regarding school transfers and reassignment request. This attempt was viewed by many citizens as a means to implement token integration. On September 2, 1957 the first public school integration in North Carolina took place in Greensboro. According to Clarence Dean of the New York Times, ?The group comprises one senior high school girl, three junior high school boys and on boy and one girl in elementary school.? Some citizens according to Dean praised the action of the city of Greensboro as a ?sincere,...

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