Utility of V. O. Key's Black Population Density Theory in the Desegregation of Southern U.S. Public Universities 1948–1963

By Boucher, Diane M. | The Journal of Negro Education, Winter 2017 | Go to article overview

Utility of V. O. Key's Black Population Density Theory in the Desegregation of Southern U.S. Public Universities 1948–1963


Boucher, Diane M., The Journal of Negro Education


Southern state colleges and universities' responses to African American applicants varied considerably from 1940 through 1963. Faced with qualified Black applicants backed by the NAACP, social movements, and federal authorities-some state and university officials admitted Black students with fairly little resistance, whereas others stonewalled, created new barriers, but eventually conceded. Arkansas was the first southern state to admit a Black student to a publicly funded state college, and South Carolina was last. What accounts for the sequence by which the eleven southern states admitted the first African Americans to state universities? This article provides an overview of the first Black entrants to southern state public colleges, analyzes the effects of United States Supreme Court rulings on higher education desegregation, and offers a provisional explanation for how state-level defenses to desegregation fell. The aim is to explain social and political factors that contributed to higher education desegregation in the 50s and 60s, thereby enabling individuals and organizations to formulate strategies to address present day inequities and injustices.

To that end, this essay investigates the utility of V. O. Key's (1984) analytical framework in Southern Politics in State and Nation. Key posited that varying rates of Black population density within and across eleven Southern states affected local and regional political development in the mid-twentieth century. In Black Belt counties where African Americans lived and worked in higher numbers, White supremacist elites controlled political institutions to protect their economic and social interests at the state and national level (Key, 1984).

Key's analysis showed that while race was part of the political debate, more importantly, the need to control labor in rural agricultural regions drove White elites to devise political strategies to resist federal intervention in southern state and local race-related policies. Elite Whites influenced national elections to ensure a unified bloc would veto Black civil rights legislation in the U.S. Congress. Key also noted that race was not a salient political factor in some areas of the southern states, particularly in cities, the highlands, and coastal areas, where the economy was not dependent on large-scale agriculture. Key noted that demographic and economic changes would eventually transform southern political culture.

If Key is correct that the percentage of Black population determined the nature of political control in southern states, then one can estimate that states with the highest percentage of Blacks should offer massive resistance to desegregation because White political elites will influence education policy decisions. Questions raised in this essay are: In the realm of higher education desegregation, does Key's demographic theory explain state level variation in resistance to federal desegregation rulings? Did other social, political, and economic factors affect the timing and circumstances of desegregation in different states?

The article begins with a brief history of southern Black education, a table outlining the first undergraduate or graduate Black applicant accepted into a southern public university in each southern state, a comparative analysis of state public universities' level of resistance to desegregation prior to and following the Brown v. Board Education (1954, 1955) rulings, and an examination of four case studies that represent all levels of state university resistance to desegregation. Not all of the first entrants remained at or graduated from these universities. In at least one case, the university accepted students on a segregated basis. This examination does not claim that higher education desegregation ended with the admittance of Black students as many institutions continued to find ways to exclude Black graduate and undergraduate students. The intent is to understand some of the social and political factors that impacted the initial puncture in southern public university desegregation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Utility of V. O. Key's Black Population Density Theory in the Desegregation of Southern U.S. Public Universities 1948–1963
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.