tv [untitled] June 2, 2012 8:30pm-9:00pm EDT
technology for 1957 and modern medicine being made available but being made available in a segregated context. in other words there's the black polio line, the black kids in line for their polio shots, the white kids in line for their polio shots. they are not going into the same room. i use this slide, i use this photograph because as i say it's so evocative of the divide, the racial divide in the american south at the time. let me give you another example. again, this may be unsettling but i'll show it anyway. this is an example of the inequality of facilities. this is the cafeteria for a black school in alabama in 1954. if you multiplied this scene by a whole host of other scenes then you begin to get the sense of what african-american parents -- well what african-american students and their parents were up against. leapt me repeat this.
there was no separate but equal facility in the south at this time. every facility that was segregated, if it was for blacks it was going to be patently inferior. let me pull up a chart that reflects on this. the cost of segregation. look at the numbers, the average daily pupil expense in all public schools in the south in 1950, look at the difference for whites and blacks. now let me remind you that this is at a time when black students represent about 40, depending on the state, some states larger but generally for the south represented about 45% of the students in the south at the time. but you can see clearly the difference. then if you get into the individual states, look at the differences. look at georgia, but what's worse look at mississippi. in other words, there is as i said before there's no separate but equal here.
clearly the facilities that the african-americans had were going to be less because the allocation were going to be significantly less. i put up the figures for california, new york and washington, they were not segregated areas but i put up the figures in comparison and you'll notice right away that the area of the country that provides the least for education, the south provides significantly less for african-americans. provides significantly less for african-americans. you know, again oil get myself in trouble here but people talk about the achievement gap today. this is the root of the achievement gap. this is where it came from. it came from decades of poor training and the aftermath of that poor training that extends into contemporary society. by the early 1950s, african-american parents in south carolina, in virginia, in delaware, in the district of columbia initiated a series of
lawsuits against segregation that all eventually would be collapsed under brown v board of education. i want to bring up linda brown. she's the key to all of this. linda brown was a young girl who resided in topeka, kansas. let's me clear. topeka, kansas, is not the deep south. but kansas maintained a segregated school system. linda brown was bussed and i use this word intentionally, i use it for dramatic effect. she was based across town to go to a segregated black school even though she lived two blocks away from a white school. we talk about it and maybe rightly so how bussing is used to promote racial integration and how that creates disharmony and that's correct but what about bussing being used for years to maintain racial segregation? in other words the bus was going in the opposite direction in
order to make sure that blacks were in all-black schools. the other thing that's interesting about the brown suit, and this is all by circumstance, the famous supreme court case became the brown case essentially because oliver brown the plaintiff, the father of linda brown came first on the alphabetical role. in other words his name came up before the others and as a result all of this was lumped under brown. what's interesting about the campaign in topeka is not just that topeka is involved in a lawsuit against segregation or in favor of desegregation what's interesting is this is not the first lawsuit. the very first lawsuit filed by black parents in topeka, kansas to challenge racial segregation, racially segregated schools was filed in 1879. the very first suit was filed in
1879. folks, this is long before the naacp existed. so the naacp is hardly responsible for this. freight, i'm not going to get into a lot of detail here. you know the rest of the story. the supreme court will make its decision. that decision is hand down on may 17th, 1954. and that decision is going to be monumental. legal scholars consider it one of the three or four most significant decisions by the supreme court. i'm only providing bit of this here. but that decision would send shockwaves through american society and in some ways, in some ways we're still dealing with it today. in some ways when we talk about, as i said before the educational gap or when we talk about segregated schools even in seattle in the year 2012, we're dealing with the consequence of
the brown decision. but let me talk about the immediate consequence of the brown decision because that was going to be a huge reaction on the part of the white south to what happened. the white south, well let me pull this up. the white south reaction to the brown decision was swift and it was equally negative. and it set the tone for a pattern of resistance to desegregation that would extend, i have down here on the paper for 20 years. i think we can argue it would extend for 40 years. that would extend for 40 years. this was called the massive resistance campaign. the massive resistance campaign. folks, you know, this is not ancient history for me at least. i can remember seeing these signs in tennessee and mississippi in the 1960s. the idea of impeaching earl warren and impeaching earl warren because of the brown decision was something that was politically popular for a very,
very long time. southern states would pass new laws to prevent integration. let me give you some examples of these laws and in some ways they are almost humorous except for the consequences that they bring about. several states gave their governors the power to close schools that were order to integrate. let me repeat that. several states gave their governors the power to close schools that the courts ordered to integrate. and in virginia the law went something like this. a governor can close a school that's been ordered to desegregate by declaring that school inefficient. inefficient. and there were governors who would do so. but the grand example of what would happen, this is essentially the governor stepping in, the grand example was prince edward county, virginia between 1957 and 1960. in that county, after a federal
court had ordered prince edward county, virginia to integrate its schools, between 1957 and 1960 there were no publicly operated schools in that county. shall i repeat that? between 1957 and 1960 there were no public schools operating in that county. virtually all of the white students attended private schools. and the blacks who remained in the county, many of the blacks actually sent their kids out of the county, but black kids who remained in the county received no education at all for those three years. i use prince edward county only because i want to give you a sense and it's hard to imagine in 2012 this kind of reaction i want to give you a sense of what would happen and what in fact did happen after the brown decision. as i said before, virginia pass ad law to deny funding to
inefficient schools and inefficient schools were the schools that were declared racially integrated but what's even more interesting and maybe in some ways more sinister in the wake of the brown decision new organizations arose that would make it their business to prevent not just the desegregation of the schools, but the desegregation of all of southern society. there were a host of these organizations, i'll give you a couple of names. i'll give you three names. one of the names you may be familiar with, the white citizens council. some of you, i think, eric has heard -- how many of you have heard of the white citizens council. okay. some people call them the uptown clan. they were people dedicated to the idea of maintaining racial segregation and they were often very powerful people in the community. my personal favorite in terms of these new organizations was the national association for the advancement of white people.
this was an organization that was created in order to try to stymie racial integration. perhaps the most sinister of these organizations, i'm sorry, i should have pulled these up, these are images that reflect the opposition, growing opposition to segregation. i love the woman holding the sign, integration is a moral sin. that opposition was palpable. i'll give you some more images in a minute. but i want to talk about this one. the mississippi sovereignty commission. this was one of the organizations that was established to try to block not just block desegregation in mississippi, but to try to block any effort to change the racial status quo. how many of you heard of the mississippi sovereignty commission? i'm not surprised. because it was a much more secretive organization than the white citizens council and it was much more sinister than the
national association for the advancement of white people. the mississippi sovereignty council or commission was essentially an organization of very, very powerful private citizens, some of the richest citizens in the state of mississippi plus very powerful public figures who secretly belonged to this association. the governor of mississippi belonged to it. other public officials secretly belonged to it. and there are some who argue that it was behind much of the so-called klan violence in mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s. the mississippi sovereignty commission came to the fore recently or our knowledge of it came to the fore recently because of a woman who has a seattle connection, rita bender. you know rita. yeah. i don't know if you know her first husband. her first husband was one of the
three people killed in mississippi in 1964. go ahead. [ inaudible ] >> i didn't know david lived in seattle. that's news to me. but rita bender lives here now. rita bender and maybe i should pull up the second image. no it's on this one. this is michael schwerner. there's no reason for you to know the name now but those of us who lived in the 1960s and into the 1970s knew his name very well. he and these other two gentlemen were killed by klans men in mississippi in 1964 because of their civil rights activity. there was a very famous book written about them called "three lives from mississippi." rita bender was the wife at that time or naturally the widow of
schwerner. also a civil rights worker on her own in mississippi. and she always believed, at least this is what i interpret from her, she always believed that the mississippi sovereignty commission was behind her husband's death. and she continued to investigate it and that investigation continued into the 1990s, into the first decade of the 20th century and finally there have been indictments handed down against some of these people who were in the background. not the people who actually did the killing. most of those are dead. but against the people who provided, if you will, the money, the resources, helped to create the climate that would allow this kind of killing to take place. rita been bender is a hero to m. she came from the civil rights era and continued to fight the good fight while most of us were no longer interested in that
direct civil rights campaign. let me come back to the national story. remember i talked about barack obama and the whole relationship to communism. remember we talked about josef stalin and some of you discussed stalin in your exams how the communists got involved in african-american civil rights activity in the 1960s. this is the shadow of this. this is, if you will, the mirror opposite of it. in other words, when people began to be involved in civil rights activity in the 1950s and 1960s it was very easy for the opposition to then say what? these people are communists. it was very easy for the opposition to make the communist argument. and this was going to be very powerful and as you can see, arkansas state law in 1958 -- anybody who knows anything about the naacp would be hard pressed to imagine the naacp is the capital of the international
communist conspiracy, but nonetheless that's the law that was going to be passed in 1958. and it was passed for a specific reason. most of the naacp members in arkansas at that time were school teachers, black school teachers and this law was seen as a way of making sure that they would no longer be involved in civil rights work, that they would no longer be involved with the naacp. this situation is heating up dramatically. there's an escalation ever tension and i'll show you where that tension leads. in fact you can see it almost happening. these are black students turned away from north little rock high school in 1957 and of course the anti-segregation protest, there was a race riot in clinton, tennessee over the idea of integrating the schools. in other words, there's growing tension all over the south.
there are a group of senators -- almost every senator from the south and every congressman from the south signed a petition calling for the, if you will, the removal of the brown decision or at least the nega the ion of the brown decision. it's almost unprecedented. it's hard to imagine a scene where most of the congressmen from one particular region came together over one issue but they did at that particular time. school integration, as far as they were concerned was a major step towards the destruction of their society and as a result they were going to try to do everything they could to stop it. and that, of course, leads us to the governor in little rock. i don't know if we can do this while the cameras are rolling but i'll ask if this works.
oil ask how much you know about little rock. how much do we know about little rock? steve, tell me what you know. >> it was a school under federal order to integrate and when local authorities attempted to bar desegregation, president eisenhower sent troops for intervention of force. >> direct intervention of force. that's key. i'll talk about that in a minute. what about the background? what prompted this? actually, naacp lawsuit. naacp lawsuit calling for the desegregation of central high, the major high school in little rock. the lawsuit went to a federal court, the federal judge said, yes, central high should be desegregated, and he ordered the entrance, the allowing of eight young women and men into little
rock high. then it becomes very interesting because when these people, when these kids show up to go to school, under this federal order, they are turned away by a mob. they eventually show up again, they are turned away about the arkansas national guard. and essentially orville becomes the first of governors to stand in the school house doors to prevent these kids from going to school, to going to little rock central high school. this is a photograph that's been seen all over the world. this is elizabeth. one of the eight students. she's walking. she's surround by a mob. the arkansas national guard people. we say arkansas national. but they were under the control of the governor at that moment essentially standing by as she's attacked. every one of these students had to run the gauntlet if you will the gauntlet of hate in order to try to get to the schools at
that particular time and ultimately desegregation was not successful. ultimately, ultimately the federal court order was being defied. it's at this point, it's at this point that president eisenhower steps in. there's a back story i won't get into and a lot of detail but eisenhower felt he had an agreement with orville to allow for the integration of the school. he went back on that agreement. eisenhower became extremely upset. and he decided that now the federal government has to step in. not only that the federal government has to in effect enforce the orders or the decisions of a federal court. and as a result, as steve says, eisenhower sends in, this is eisenhower's press conference in 1957, where he announces that he's sending in 1100 federal troops from the 101st air borne division. if you guys know anything about
the military, the 101st air borne was the toughest unit in the u.s. army. those to protect those kids in little rock. and not only did they protect them in september of 1957, federal troops remained at little rock until may of 1958. they remained for the entire calendar year. and it made for a very bizarre situation. i'll give you an example. i won't go into this in detail, but i'll give you an example. when a young lady, or a young man, but mostly young lady, had to go to the bathroom, one of the students had to go to the bathroom, she was required to be escorted by a member of the 101st airborne. when these kids left home every day, they were escorted. and you can see this. you can see the army -- they're
riding to school in the army car. when they left home every day, they were escorted by troops. when they returned home, they were escorted by troops. they didn't go anywhere on school grounds without the 101st airborne. now, you know, by our standards today, that seems like hyperb e hyperbole, my god, he is eisenhower is exaggerating the situation. if you know the anger in little rock at the time, you know this is no exaggeration at all. one of the things i learned later on when i was interviewing a man who had served with the 101st, he was an african-american, rose to the rank of colonel, he was angry about what happened in little rock, not for the reasons you might imagine. he was angry, because when eisenhower sent the 101st to little rock, he also issued an order to say that only white troops would be sent there. because african-american troops of the 101st went there, that
might provoke the mob even more so. and my friend that i interviewed -- i'll give you his name, dr. sam kelly, an administrator here for a number of years, he was angry about that for years. he was angry about that for years, because he felt that as a member of the u.s. military -- as an officer in the 101st airborne, he should go along with his troops to essentially enforce the desegregation decision. it didn't happen. who knows? maybe eisenhower was right. maybe sending blacks as part of the 101st airborne would have increased the tension and that would have led to even more violence. but the very fact that eisenhower would make a decision like that is reflective of the kinds of situations that happened, that emerged in little rock at that particular time. little rock was a crisis, no question about it. it was a crisis that was going to be followed, not just on national tv. in other words, every single day you could go home and you could see on the 6:00 news, those
soldiers guarding those students at little rock. but it was going to be a crisis of international proportion, as well. indeed, one of the reasons that eisenhower actually ordered the 101st was because he knew that if he didn't, that this would be a propaganda coup for the soviets. the soviets were following this, people in germany, people in france, people in great britain. people around the world were very much interested in and some would say invested in the little rock crisis. they wanted to know what the u.s. government was going to do to ensure justice in the south, and particularly in central high school. and i bring this up for a very important reason. i've hinted at it before in this class, but i think it's something that we ought to understand. that by -- certainly by world war ii, i would say this started probably would scotts borough, but certainly by world war ii, issues surrounding civil rights were no longer the exclusive
purview of the u.s. that the world became involved. the world became interested, and the world commented on it. the stories of little rock were going to be headline stories in london papers and paris papers and other papers around the world. as eisenhower said, i'm not using my words here, eisenhower said that we've got to deal with little rock, because it's giving us a black eye abroad. we've got to deal with little rock, because it's giving us a black eye abroad. eisenhower wasn't necessarily in favor of school integration. okay? he was a product of his times. and he actually expressed a lot of concerns about black kids and white kids sitting in the same classroom. but he was also the president of the united states, and he felt that he had a responsibility, and he did have a responsibility to enstorforce the u.s. supreme court decision and other federal decisions. and so the die was cast, as steve said, that eisenhower committed troops, and those troops were going to be sent to
defend the rights of these black kids in the south. little rock is significant for a couple reasons. maybe three reasons. let me list them very quickly. and then we're going to take a break. first, little rock is significant because it proves that the 1954 brown decision is, in fact, the law of the land. it proves that that decision means -- means that those who oppose desegregation are now on the wrong side of the law. in other words, before 1954, segregation was legal. let me repeat that. before 1954, segregation was legal. it was legal in some 20 states, and not all of them were in the deep south. after 1954, after the brown decision, segregation is no longer legal, segregation -- in effect, those who promoted or embraced segregation were now violating the law. this was a very important message that was sent to the
people on both sides of this issue. for the first time in u.s. history, the law favored integrationists, rather than segregationists. secondly, eisenhower set a precedent in little rock with the use of federal troops. this would happen again and again and again, maybe it had to happen, because of the potential for violence in the south. but the very fact that it did happen meant that the federal government was now committing its resources, including its most militant, if you will, resources, in order to defend black rights. this was a lesson that wasn't lost, either on african-americans in the south or on the segregationists in the south, as well. thirdly, the 1954 decision and the little rock crisis itself, left gaping holes in the wall of segregation. as you know, we've been talking about chips -- chipping away at that wall since the beginning of the class. i'm not going to suggest to you
that that wall fell in 1954 or 1957 or the 1960s. but i am going to say that its foundation was for the first time significantly weakened. its foundation was significantly weakened. but it also led, especially the little rock crisis, it led to the realization that the battle for civil rights could go only so far in the courts. now it would have to take place in the streets. now it would also have to take place in the streets. i think that's a good point for us to break. and we'll take five minutes. then we'll regroup, and i'll talk about the battle in the streets. we'll talk about the sit-ins that began in the early 1960s. okay.
okay. we're going to get started. when i say we're going to get started, am i being filmed? okay. we're getting started. i hope you understand the argument. what we're suggesting to you is that as i said at the very beginning, ordinary people were going to be crucial in the rise of the civil rights movement. and you see this in a whole host of ways. i think you've seen it in terms of the civil rights cases that sort of bubble up from the bottom to the top cases that challenge the conventions of race in american society. and i think you also see it in terms of crises like little rock. these are kids. these are high school kids. and, you know, some can argue that these were kids who were pulled into a vortex of politics, and they really weren't, you know, significant instruments in control of their own destiny. on the other hand, one could argue that these kids understood
that they were making history. they understood that they were part of a challenge, part of a much largerel challenge of racial segregation. so, yes, it's about going to a particular high school, it's about integrating a particular high school in little rock, arkansas, but it's much more than that. it's about seeing to it that there is racial justice all over the country. as i said just before the break, the little rock crisis was the last major crisis in the 1950s, certainly the last major crisis that we're going to address. it was also significant because it was a crisis that grew out of the legal attempt to try to ban segregation. the legal attempt to try to challenge segregation. by the early 1960s, there will be new forms of protests, new forms of challenge of segregation. and what i'm speaking about here, essentially are the sit-ins and all of the demonstrations that accompany those sit-ins. and here the idea o