Pride and Prejudice: School Desegregation and Urban Renewal in Norfolk, 1950-1959


These findings present a breakthrough in urban studies and school desegregation research. The author establishes that the history of school desegregation began much earlier than commonly thought, with almost a decade of planning, redevelopment, and urban renewal initiatives, and that school boards and administrators were only minor actors in a cast that included mayors, city councils, and state legislators. Two events make the history of Norfolk in the 1950s remarkable: the voracity of its attack upon urban blight and the ferocity of its resistance to school desegregation. One of the first cities in the nation to initiate large-scale redevelopment efforts, Norfolk was the chief battleground to court-ordered school desegregation.

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