Race and Education in North Carolina: From Segregation to Desegregation

Race and Education in North Carolina: From Segregation to Desegregation

by John E. Batchelor


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The separation of white and black schools remained largely unquestioned and unchallenged in North Carolina for the first half of the twentieth century, yet by the end of the 1970s, the Tar Heel State operated the most thoroughly desegregated school system in the nation. In Race and Education in North Carolina, John E. Batchelor, a former North Carolina school superintendent, offers a robust analysis of this sea change and the initiatives that comprised the gradual, and often reluctant, desegregation of the state's public schools.
In a state known for relative racial moderation, North Carolina government officials generally steered clear of fiery rhetorical rejections of Brown v. Board of Education, in contrast to the position of leaders in most other parts of the South. Instead, they played for time, staving off influential legislators who wanted to close public schools and provide vouchers to support segregated private schools, instituting policies that would admit a few black students into white schools, and continuing to sanction segregation throughout most of the public education system. Litigation — primarily initiated by the NAACP — and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 created stronger mandates for progress and forced government officials to accelerate the pace of desegregation. Batchelor sheds light on the way local school districts pursued this goal while community leaders, school board members, administrators, and teachers struggled to balance new policy demands with deeply entrenched racial prejudice and widespread support for continued segregation.
Drawing from case law, newspapers, interviews with policy makers, civil rights leaders, and attorneys involved in school desegregation, as well as previously unused archival material, Race and Education in North Carolina presents a richly textured history of the legal and political factors that informed, obstructed, and finally cleared the way for desegregation in the North Carolina public education system.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807161364
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publication date: 12/16/2015
Series: Making the Modern South
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

John E. Batchelor retired from the North Carolina school system after thirty years as a teacher and administrator. The author or coauthor of several books, he has also served as a school improvement and leadership consultant with the Success For All Foundation and the Center for Data Driven Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University.

What People are Saying About This

William Link

"John Batchelor's Race and Education in North Carolina charts the twisted path of segregation and desegregation of public schools during the twentieth century. A North Carolina native, teacher, and superintendent who lived through this tumultuous era, Batchelor writes with a critical and informed eye. Engaging, thorough, and well researched, this book deserves reading by anyone interested in the ambiguities of race in modern America." — William Link, author of North Carolina: Change and Tradition in a Southern State

Jeffrey J. Crow

"In a deeply researched and thorough assessment of the numerous lawsuits that finally desegregated North Carolina's schools, John E. Batchelor provides a compelling account of a southern state's journey from grudging acceptance of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to the most integrated schools in the nation by the 1970s. A seasoned educator, Batchelor both witnessed and participated in those changes. Along the way, he challenges past scholars' characterizations of North Carolina's progressive reputation as well as the reputations of key politicians and educators. Batchelor's faith and experience in the power of integrated schools to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages and biases against race and culture offer a sober reminder of what is at stake in twenty-first century American schools." — Jeffrey J. Crow, former Deputy Secretary, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

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