Just Trying to Have School: The Struggle for Desegregation in Mississippi

Just Trying to Have School: The Struggle for Desegregation in Mississippi

by Natalie G. Adams, James H. Adams

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After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, no state fought longer or harder to preserve segregated schools than Mississippi. This massive resistance came to a crashing halt in October 1969 when the Supreme Court ruled in Alexander v. Holmes Board of Education that "the obligation of every school district is to terminate dual school systems at once and to operate now and hereafter only unitary schools."

Thirty of the thirty-three Mississippi districts named in the case were ordered to open as desegregated schools after Christmas break. With little guidance from state officials and no formal training or experience in effective school desegregation processes, ordinary people were thrown into extraordinary circumstances. However, their stories have been largely ignored in desegregation literature.

Based on meticulous archival research and oral history interviews with over one hundred parents, teachers, students, principals, superintendents, community leaders, and school board members, Natalie G. Adams and James H. Adams explore the arduous and complex task of implementing school desegregation. How were bus routes determined? Who lost their position as principal? Who was assigned to what classes?

Without losing sight of the important macro forces in precipitating social change, the authors shift attention to how the daily work of "just trying to have school" helped shape the contours of school desegregation in communities still living with the decisions made fifty years ago.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496819543
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Natalie G. Adams, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is director of New College and professor of social and cultural studies in education at the University of Alabama. She is coauthor of Cheerleader!: An American Icon and coeditor of Geographies of Girlhood: Identities In-Between.

James H. Adams, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is professor of instructional systems and workforce development at Mississippi State University. He has published articles in the Journal of Career and Technical Education, the International Journal of Instructional Media, the Journal of Interactive Learning Research, and the Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction The Daily Work of Doing Brown 3

Chapter 1 With No Deliberate Speed: The Road from Brown to Alexander 11

Chapter 2 "A Cruel and Intolerable Burden": Black Mississippians and Freedom of Choice 34

Chapter 3 Big Bulls in the Local Herd: Superintendents Enforcing the Law of the Land 51

Chapter 4 Weathering the Storm: Principals and Local Implementation 76

Chapter 5 Love, Hope, and Fear: Teachers Guiding Desegregation 100

Chapter 6 "We All Came Together on the Football Field," But…: The Role of Sports in Desegregation 124

Chapter 7 "We Never Had a Prom": Social Integration and the Extracurricular 146

Chapter 8 "Hell No, We Won't Go": Protest and Resistance to School Desegregation 167

Chapter 9 Resistance through Exodus: Private Schools as a Countermovement 188

Chapter 10 Unfinished Business: Lessons Learned through School Desegregation 213

Notes 237

Bibliography 269

Index 291

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