Lawyers v. Educators: Black Colleges and Desegregation in Public Higher Education

By Jean L. Preer | Go to book overview

2 Gaines: Equal Access or Equal Opportunity?

The existence of Negro separate schools is itself a negation of democracy, and the long range objective of any sound education program for America must envisage the day when all Americans regardless of race or creed will attend the same schools; when the state will draw on its best talent to administer and operate its educational system regardless of whether the person possessing the talent is black or otherwise, when all unnecessary duplication of expenditures will be eliminated. In the meantime all intermediate programs should contribute their share toward this goal. 1

Charles H. Houston

The period from 1890 to 1930 was the formative era for racially separate public higher education. The critical need for educational opportunities for black students forced compromises in opposition to compulsory racial separation. With the assistance of Congress and the Bureau of Education, public colleges for Negroes became Negro colleges whose racial identity overwhelmed their particular academic function. Black educators responded to the pressures of segregation by organizing professional groups that enhanced the educational quality of separate black colleges but also acknowledged and bolstered the segregated status quo.

The decade of the 1930s was the formative era of the legal strategy for the NAACP campaign against inequality in public education. From the report of Nathan Margold in 19302 to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Gaines case in 1938, 3 lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sought to devise legal arguments that would reconcile the competing demands for equality before the law and equality of educational opportunity. The same ambivalence that characterized the Association's attitude toward separate Negro colleges marked its resort to the courts for relief. Confronted with both inequality of access, imposed by segregation laws, and inequality of educational opportunities at Negro col

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Lawyers v. Educators: Black Colleges and Desegregation in Public Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 4
  • 1 - The Morrill Act of 1890: Separate Black Public Colleges 5
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Gaines: Equal Access or Equal Opportunity? 31
  • Notes 56
  • 3 - Sipuel: Arguments in Transition 63
  • Notes 88
  • 4 - Sweatt: Dubious Precedent 95
  • Notes 121
  • 5 - Hawkins: Conditions That Now Prevail 127
  • Notes 152
  • 6 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964: from Segregation to Discrimination 157
  • Notes 183
  • 7 - Adams: Racial Identifiability and Black Public Colleges 189
  • Notes 222
  • Conclusion 233
  • Notes 241
  • List of Cases and Statutes 243
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 271
  • About the Author 279
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