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

By Jean L. Preer | Go to book overview

to increase disparities between white and black land-grant colleges. Enthusiasm for striking the act's separate-but-equal proviso ignored the laws that had given nothing to black colleges and repeated Congress's traditionally superficial and uninformed attitudes toward black higher education.

By viewing desegregation in its least complex form, sponsors of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 regarded desegregation in higher education as nearly accomplished and minimized the need for and potential impact of Title VI. Congressional consideration of the measure provided little guidance for its future use. What little evidence there was suggested that the prohibited discrimination was the use of race to reject qualified applicants or to exclude a black student from the benefits of a federally funded program. Procedural rules adopted for Title VI reiterated this approach.

The guidelines for Title VI in elementary and secondary education took a different approach, calling for student and faculty desegregation, the closing of inadequate and inferior schools, and the elimination of racial identifiability. The guidelines and the cases approving them did not consider their impact on higher education. Although they represented an implicit threat to black colleges, cases such as Jefferson and Green formed the basis for a new thrust in higher education desegregation efforts. ASTA, Sanders, and Norris heralded a new institutional approach and a new concern for the future of black colleges while retaining the integrationist goal of a unitary system of just schools. The varied outcomes showed continued confusion over the applicability of public school precedents, the scope of the affirmative duty to desegregate higher education, and its impact on public black colleges.


Notes
1.
Vivian W. Henderson, "The Role of the Predominantly Negro Institutions," Journal of Negro Education 36 (Summer 1967): 270. Henderson was president of Clark College in Atlanta.
2.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 ( 1954), (Brown I); 349 U.S. 294 ( 1955), (Brown II).
3.
Adams v. Richardson, 356 F. Supp. 92 (D.C. D.C. 1973), modified, 480 F. 2d 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1973).
4.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. No. 88-352, 78 Stat. 252; 42 U.S.C. Secs. 2000d-2000d-4.
5.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Equal Protection of the Laws in Public Higher Education ( Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1961).
6.
Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 ( 1958).
7.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Equal Protection, p. 48.
8.
Ibid.
9.
Ibid.
10.
McCabe v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry., 235 U.S. 151 ( 1914).
11.
Sipuel v. Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 ( 1948).

-183-

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