Lawyers v. Educators: Black Colleges and Desegregation in Public Higher Education

By Jean L. Preer | Go to book overview

Although the Legal Defense Fund was initially ready to follow the logic of public school precedents in higher education, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education was unwilling to sacrifice black colleges to the unseen benefits of further desegregation. The NAFEO brief injected into the proceedings important reminders of educational and racial reality. Black educators had long realized that racial identifiability was a symptom of other factors: the lack of access to white schools because of economic and academic barriers, but also, the positive supportive environment black students found on black campuses. They also had long recognized that the inadequacies of black colleges were due not to race itself, but to the inadequate funding, diminished status, and ill-defined educational roles allotted to them.

The experience and perceptions of black educators helped the Adams suit evolve from its original preoccupation with racial identifiability to its acceptance of increased access for black students, enhanced offerings at black colleges, and a more active role for blacks in educational decision making. This change in direction, embodied in HEW's Amended Criteria, was a first step to reconciling the demands for both equal right and equal opportunity. By recognizing the rights of black students to full access to white schools and, at the same time, the importance of institutions founded to serve the unique needs of black people, the definition of desegregation in 1977 suggested the possibility that black students and black colleges might be both black and equal.


Notes
1.
Black Mississippians' Council on Higher Education, "Ayers v. Waller: Towards a Substantive Definition of Equal Educational Opportunity," A position paper adopted by the Council at Statewide Assembly, 10 May 1975. I am grateful to Isaiah Madison, Esq., convenor of the Council, for providing a copy of the position paper.
2.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. No. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241.
3.
Voting Rights Act of 1965, Pub. L. 89-110, 79 Stat. 437.
4.
Jim Leeson, "Desegregation in the South: Deliberate Speed of Title VI," Saturday Review, 17 December 1966, p. 75; Thomas F. Pettigrew, "A Social Psychological View of the Predominantly Negro College," Journal of Negro Education 36 (Summer 1967): 274.
5.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S.483 ( 1954), (Brown I).
6.
Howie, "The Image of Black People in Brown v. Board of Education," 1 Black L. J. 234 ( 1971).
7.
Earl J. McGrath, The Predominantly Negro Colleges and Universities in Transition ( New York: Teachers College, 1965), pp. 5, 156.
9.
Higher Education Act of 1965, Pub. L. No. 89-329, 79 Stat. 1219.
10.
McGrath, Predominantly Negro Colleges, p. 31.

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Lawyers v. Educators: Black Colleges and Desegregation in Public Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 4
  • 1 - The Morrill Act of 1890: Separate Black Public Colleges 5
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Gaines: Equal Access or Equal Opportunity? 31
  • Notes 56
  • 3 - Sipuel: Arguments in Transition 63
  • Notes 88
  • 4 - Sweatt: Dubious Precedent 95
  • Notes 121
  • 5 - Hawkins: Conditions That Now Prevail 127
  • Notes 152
  • 6 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964: from Segregation to Discrimination 157
  • Notes 183
  • 7 - Adams: Racial Identifiability and Black Public Colleges 189
  • Notes 222
  • Conclusion 233
  • Notes 241
  • List of Cases and Statutes 243
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 271
  • About the Author 279
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