First Available Cell: Desegregation of the Texas Prison System

By Chad R. Trulson; James W. Marquart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
18,000 Days

In May 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Brown v. Board of Education to end racial discrimination in public educational facilities as well as put an end to the “separate but equal” doctrine that divided the nation into two communities, black and white. On paper, segregation was now illegal, but how in reality was the Court’s order to be implemented within school hallways and classrooms? The marbled halls of the Supreme Court in Washington seemed light years away from the segregated schools in states like Texas. Indeed, the timing and implementation of Brown weighed heavily on the minds of the justices, especially Chief Justice Earl Warren, who believed that without guidelines for the lower courts there would be confusion and delay.1

On May 31, 1955, Chief Justice Warren delivered the Court’s opinion in the second Brown v. Board of Education decision (known as Brown II), setting out the nation’s road map to racial desegregation. Brown II was a sevenparagraph opinion that reaffirmed the principle that racial discrimination in public education was unconstitutional, and that all federal, state, or local laws requiring or permitting such discrimination was unlawful. Brown II also contained the now famous statement that desegregation of the nation’s schools must be accomplished “with all deliberate speed.”2


A Line in the Sand

Soon after the Court’s opinion, 100 U.S. congressmen and senators from southern states drafted and signed the Southern Manifesto, a document that voiced opposition to the racial desegregation of public places, especially public schools. The only member of the Texas delegation in Washington who signed the Manifesto was Senator Price Daniel, who was elected in 1952.3

-42-

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First Available Cell: Desegregation of the Texas Prison System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Introduction xiv
  • From Segregation to Desegregation in Texas Prisons- A Timeline xvi
  • Part I - The outside 1
  • Chapter 1 - Broken Barriers 3
  • Chapter 2 - An Institutional Fault Line 15
  • Chapter 3 - 18,000 Days 42
  • Part II - The Inside 59
  • Chapter 4 - The Color Line Persists 61
  • Chapter 5 - Cracks in the Color Line 89
  • Chapter 6 - Full Assault on the Color Line 111
  • Chapter 7 - The Color Line Breaks 134
  • Chapter 8 - 7,000 Days Later 163
  • Chapter 9 - Life in the First Available Cell 176
  • Part III - A Colorless Society? 201
  • Chapter 10 - The Most Unlikely Place 203
  • Notes 225
  • Select Bibliography 265
  • Index 269
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