Education in Desegregation: Comparative Case Study of the Desegregation of Public Schools in Mississippi

Miller, Edward Elam (2019) Education in Desegregation: Comparative Case Study of the Desegregation of Public Schools in Mississippi. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Melissa Bass from Public Policy Leadership, University of Mississippi.


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It has been over 65 years since Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was decided, however, with the massive number of Mississippi schools that remain segregated, one is led to believe that in Mississippi with deliberate speed actually means never at all. While a bit of a crude exaggeration, it begins to unpack a lot of truth. The inability for some communities to successfully desegregate their schools can be rooted in decisions that were made around their first attempts at desegregation. In October 1969, the courts mandated that “all deliberate speed” was no longer constitutionally permissible in Alexander v. Holmes Board of Education. The decisions and actions made between that October and before the schools had to reopen from winter break in January 1970 have had a lasting impact on the demographic makeup of the schools today. This research comparatively examines the cases of desegregation in both Oxford and Clarksdale, Mississippi. Both Oxford and Clarksdale had to stop assigning students to schools based on race. However, Oxford was able to eventually create integrated public schools, while Clarksdale was not. Seeking an answer to why this occurred, this study concludes that Oxford’s city leadership and community efforts to promote public education paved the way to an ultimately successful desegregation of its schools. In contrast Clarksdale’s inability to integrate their schools is rooted in fractured community leadership, the development of segregation academies and committees designed to promote them, and impact of the districts and attendance zones being drawn along geographic barriers that divide the city by race. Today, Clarksdale continues to confront its struggle with desegregation as its schools lack diversity and have been unable to integrate. Although before desegregation, schools in both cities were comparable in many ways, differences in community support, leadership, and impacts of segregation academies have led to stark differences between the school districts.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Miller, Edward Elam
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in Public Policy Leadership
Thesis Advisor: Melissa Bass
Thesis Advisor's Department: Public Policy Leadership
Institution: University of Mississippi
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F001 United States local history
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Depositing User: Mr. Edward Elam Miller
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2019 19:32
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2019 19:32

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