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

By Jean L. Preer | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Our job now is to put superior effort behind the law,
because the law will not make you a doctor. The law will
not make you a lawyer. The law will not make you a
scholar. The law will not register you to vote. The law will
not help you build political power. . . . The law by itself
means nothing unless we take the superior effort to
make [the Brown decision] real. 1

Rev. Jesse Jackson on the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the Brown decision,
May 17, 1979

Changing currents of the law defining equality in public higher education have flowed over a bedrock of educational, cultural, and economic problems that the end of legal segregation barely eroded. The need for inexpensive, accessible educational opportunities for black students has outlived the legal origins of the black public colleges. The dilemma that plagued W.E.B. Du Bois in 1897 remains unresolved: the tension between asserting the right of black Americans to full equality before the law and developing institutions that meet the educational needs and express the unique cultural heritage of black students. Legislation and litigation sponsored by those favoring both legal equality and equality of educational opportunity have manifested a profound ambivalence toward the dual aspects of desegregation. The boundaries of desegregation in public higher education remain unclear as courts and administrators search for new legal answers to old educational problems.

Landmark Congressional legislation contributed to the ambivalence that infused both the NAACP's early campaign and the Legal Defense Fund's recent suit in higher education. The Morrill Act of 1890 prohibited the distribution of federal land-grant funds to colleges that discriminated on the basis of race. But by allowing the maintenance of racially separate, state- supported land-grant colleges, it gave both financial support and legislative sanction to dual systems of higher education. Paradoxically, its clause requiring a just and equitable division of funds between separate white and black colleges insured the only steady source of federal monies to public Negro institutions. The NAACP initially supported the inclusion of just and equitable clauses in other federal laws. This theoretical compromise, which

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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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