Michael H. Washington
The failure of the civil rights legislation to adequately address de facto educational segregation in the North permitted northern urban school districts to continue operating their dual school systems. Beginning with a synopsis of the weaknesses of the civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s, the purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that despite blacks' struggle for quality education, the educational policy makers in Cincinnati were able to take advantage of the weak federal legislation and refine de facto segregation in the schools.
The first week of December of 1955 marked the official beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The December 1 arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks for violating the Montgomery, Alabama, city segregation code after refusing to relinquish her bus seat to a white man, and the subsequent success of the boycott which began on December 5, led the Supreme Court to uphold the decision that Alabama's state and local bus segregation laws were unconstitutional. Moreover, the victory in Montgomery led to numerous struggles throughout the South to bring an end to the odious Jim Crow laws. It also led to demonstrations throughout the North and the West against de facto segregation.
The heroic struggles in Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta and Albany, Georgia; Greensboro, North Carolina; St. Augustine, Florida and the sit- ins and demonstrations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Englewood, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and San Francisco led to the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" on August 28, 1963. Over 200,000 blacks and whites from all over the United States converged upon Washington, D.C., and thus staged the largest demonstration in the history of the nation's capital. The "I Have a Dream" speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King became a classic in American oratory. Yet some activists and critics such as Malcolm X considered the march itself to be the "farce on Washington," an almost festive affair used to promote the Kennedy Civil Rights Bill then pending before Congress.( 1)
The historical origins of Kennedy's Civil Rights Bill were rooted in the struggle against Jim Crow and the demand of Black Americans for the enforcement of the Brown decision. In addressing the issue of segregation and discrimination, the Kennedy bill proposed to end segregation at lunch counters and public facilities and to create a permanent committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. In regard to education, the bill proposed to enforce the Brown decision by giving the attorney general the authority to initiate court cases against local school districts and institutions of high learning. The final proposal was one which in its final form would have the greatest effect on American education. Kennedy argued that programs and institutions receiving federal assistance should be required to end all discriminatory practices. Unfortunately though,