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the Supreme Court's decision as license for undoing overnight the customs of years would be an unfortunate mistake." 13

The Albuquerque Journal: "It is the most explosive North-South issue since the Civil War." "

The Topeka Daily Capital remarked that the delay in issuing the decree was in recognition of the complexity of the issue, since the decision upset the previous ruling of long standing.15


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch acclaimed the decision as "a great and just act of judicial statesmanship" 16 and the Wilmington Journal spoke of it as being "based on a sound American principle." " From Baltimore came the acknowledgment that, "segregation, however 'equal' the physical facilities, does put the brand of inferiority upon Negro pupils.


99 18


Southern papers generally applauded the wisdom of the Court in postponing its decision on the "how" and "when" of desegregation. Some editors urged a calm and thoughtful consideration of the complex problems raised by the decision. 20 Others recalled the efforts of the South in trying to meet the separate-but-equal standards. A Louisville paper lamented, "Now the Supreme Court says that no laying out of treasure, no burden of taxes, no reduction of white standards to try to build up the standards of the segregated Negro school, will ever suffice." 21 The same mood was voiced in Nashville,22 while an Oklahoma editor took solace from the fact that segregated housing would minimize mixed enrollments in schools.23 The charge was made in New Orleans that the decision did no service either to education or racial accommodation.24 Other editors noted the public disappointment, dismay, fear, anger, or resentment the decision had evoked.25 But Southern editors did not generally attack the decision until later. Only one reference to the issue of States rights was noted.26

13 May 18, 1954.

14 May 18, 1954.

15 May 18, 1954. 16 May 18, 1954.

17 May 18, 1954.

18 Baltimore Morning Sun, May 18, 1954.

Atlanta Journal, May 18, 1954; Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) May 19, 1954; Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), May 18, 1954; Charleston Gazette (W. Va.), May 18,


20 Atlanta Journal and Charleston Gazette (W.Va.), May 18, 1954.

Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), May 18, 1954.

Nashville Banner, May 18, 1954.

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), May 19, 1954.

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.), May 18, 1954.

Birmingham News (Ala.), May 18, 1954; News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), May 18, 1954; Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), May 18, 1954; The State (Columbia, S.C.), May 18, 1954.

25 Birmingham News, May 18, 1954.

Outside the South, a favorite topic was the beneficial effect of the decision on world opinion, particularly among the nonwhite peoples:

From Minneapolis, Minn.:

"Moreover, the words of Chief Justice Warren will echo far beyond our borders and will favorably influence our relations with dark-skinned peoples the world over.27

From St. Louis, Mo.:

"Had the decision gone the other way, the loss to the free world in its struggle against Communist encroachment would have been incalculable. Nine men in Washington have given us a victory that no number of divisions, arms, and bombs could ever have won." 28

From New York, N.Y.:

"When some hostile propagandist rises in Moscow or Peking to accuse us of being a class society, we can . . . recite the courageous words of yesterday's opinion.'

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Only Radio Moscow was silent.30

In the wake of the decision there were calm appreciation, thoughtful concern, apprehension and resentment, but no sign of rebellion.

The States and school districts that began moving toward school desegregation after the Court issued its implementing decree on May 31, 1955, did so amid editorial opinions not markedly different. Newspapers in all parts of the Nation, including the Deep South, remarked on the Supreme Court's wisdom in adopting a moderate course.31 Although praise was general, some feared that the "mild" decree might lull segregationists into a false security.32 Others rebuked the Court for going beyond a declaration of principles into the field of lawmaking. It was pointed out that integration was not demanded, only "racial nondiscrimination." Attention was called to the great difference between compulsory integration and racial nondiscrimination.34

From a border State came the warning that not all of the problems ahead were emotional or philosophical. The administrative problem of integrating teachers, and the academic problem of bringing together into the same classroom children with unequal educational backgrounds were mentioned.35 Concern was expressed in West Virginia that the

"Minneapolis Morning Tribune, May 18, 1954.

28 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 18, 1954. 29 New York Times, May 18, 1954.

30 Herbert Hill and Jack Greenberg, Citizen's Guide to Desegregation, (Beacon, 1957). 31 Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 1, 1955; News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), June 1, 1955; Miami Herald, June 2, 1955; Nashville Banner, June 1, 1955; Arkansas Gazette, June 11, 1955; Atlanta Journal, June 1, 1955; Birmingham News, June 1, 1955; Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1955; Chicago Daily News, June 2, 1955; Pittsburgh Press, June 4, 1955.

32 Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), June 3, 1955. 33 The State (Columbia, S.C.), June 2, 1955.

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.), June 1, 1955. 35 Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), June 1, 1955.


Court's cautious decree might "allow some States to get away with segregation for untold years." 86 It was predicted that the phrase "with all deliberate speed" would cause "uncertainty and turmoil for a long time." 37 A Western paper observed that "complete racial integration may yet be many court cases away." as "Perhaps the best way to appraise the new decision," stated the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “is to say that it is good as far as it goes, but that for many citizens it does not go far enough in view of the epochal character of the 1954 decision." 39

Charleston Gazette (W. Va.), June 2, 1955.
Albuquerque Journal, June 1, 1955.

* The Oregonian (Portland), June 1, 1955.
June 1, 1955.


The new principle announced by the Supreme Court on May 17, 1954, naturally had its greatest impact upon the areas that had organized and operated all of their school systems upon a basis of racial separation-the 17 Segregating States and the District of Columbia. These areas are all in the southeastern and south-central section of the country and extend from Delaware in the east to Texas in the west. They include all the States south of the Ohio River, plus Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The magnitude of the adjustment required by the individual States and the communities within them varied because of wide differences in the percentage of Negroes and whites in the population.

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Under the Supreme Court decision, the factors determining the time schedule of desegregation must be tangible ones that directly affect the operation of the schools. In the second Brown decision, the Supreme Court said that "the vitality of these constitutional principles [of nondiscrimination in public education] cannot be allowed to yield simply because of disagreement with them." In Cooper v. Aaron 2 the Court expressly stated that hostility to racial desegregation is not one of the relevant factors to be considered in determining what is or is not "a prompt and reasonable start" and "all deliberate speed." " Therefore, traditional attitudes toward the Negro and the difficulties inherent in changing such attitudes have been excluded here in measuring the task in the various States.

The Commission has expressed the conviction that the transition from racially discriminatory to non-discriminatory school systems should, in the public interest, be accomplished without impairment, not to mention destruction, of the free system of public education as it exists throughout the nation. This has been mentioned in Chapter I in this report. The difficulties of such a transition and the methods and procedures appropriate are directly affected by the proportionate number of pupils segregated. Other factors, such as the extent to which one of the segregated groups may have suffered an educational disadvantage under the dual system and the urban and rural characteristics of the community, are also of importance and will be discussed in subsequent chapters.*

1349 U.S. 294 (1955).

2358 U.S. 1 (1958).

3 Id. at 7.

4 See also Hearings on Pending Civil Rights Bills Before a Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 1433 (testimony of the Hon. Arthur S. Flemming, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, points 2 and 4).


In the year 1953-54, there were 28,836,052 children enrolled in the public schools of the continental United States. Of this number, 10,982,935, or 38.1 percent, were in the schools of the 17 States referred to above and the District of Columbia. The percentage of Negroes in the public schools of those areas ranged from 5.7 percent to 55.0 percent, the average being 23.5 percent.

The total enrollment in the public schools of the rest of the nation was 17,853,117. No racial breakdown of this figure is available, but if the ratio of Negro school children to the total Negro population is assumed to be the same as in the other States, 1,108,867 of these children, or 6.2 percent, would be Negro. Thus, it appears that in the 17 completely segregated States and the District of Columbia taken as a unit, there were more than twice as many Negro public school children as in all the remaining 31 States.

An understanding of the potential effect of the decision on each of the Segregating States and the magnitude of the adjustment called for requires a consideration of population percentage. Table 17 shows the salient 1950 census figures.


TABLE 17.-Distribution of nonwhite 1 population in the Southern States

(1950 census)

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1 Except in the State of Oklahoma, the U.S. Census classification of "nonwhite" is for all practical purposes "Negro." In Oklahoma the 1950 nonwhite population was 9.0 percent and the Negro 6.5 percent. * Middle point, with equal number of counties above and below.

Includes Baltimore City.

Includes two cities not part of a county.

U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education.


of State School Systems: Organization, Staff, Pupils and Finances, 1953-54, p. 56. (Continental U.S. includes only 48 States. Alaska listed p. 57 under "Outlying Parts of the U.S.")

• Id. at 112.

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