Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Federal Judge Approves Mississippi Desegregation Settlement

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Federal Judge Approves Mississippi Desegregation Settlement

Article excerpt

A federal judge has approved a desegregation plan for Mississippi's universities, signaling an end to a 27-year-old legal battle.

The lawsuit was filed in 1975 by the late Jake Ayers, the father of a Black college student, who accused the state of neglecting its three historically Black universities for decades. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed and ordered remedies.

February's order from U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. came a month after Mississippi lawmakers pledged to fulfill the requirements of the settlement, expected to cost more than $500 million.

Biggers had said he would approve the settlement only if lawmakers demonstrated they would support it financially. It would be paid over 17 years, with some money coming from private endowments.

"This is a great day for Mississippi," says Reuben Anderson, the state's first Black Supreme Court justice since Reconstruction and a key member of the settlement team.

"It is the first time I can remember when the government, the attorneys, the Legislature, the Justice Department and the plaintiffs have agreed to put something behind them and move on," Anderson says. …

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