They Fought To Keep Their Classrooms White Until The Very End

black students entering clinton high school
Zain Murdock
January 10, 2022

Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954. But in 1960, Georgia’s governor Ernest Vandiver, Jr. was still grappling with his own decision: desegregate public schools by federal order, or close the schools down entirely! And as you might have guessed, white folks were not down for integration.

Governor Vandiver selected segregationist lawyer John Sibley to get the opinions from Georgia citizens themselves. He presented the option for desegregation as “token integration,” not even a full mix!

Still, 60% of those polled by Sibley voted to keep full segregation and face the consequences.

Sibley, expecting a compromise, recommended his plan for token integration to state leaders anyway. But in January 1961, when a federal judge granted two Black students access to a white university, a monkey wrench was thrown in his and Vandiver’s plans.

Eventually, as the federal government pushed, desegregation hit Georgia the next year. But this commission set the blueprint for manipulating and slowing down the desegregation process.

In fact, by the end of the decade, Black students still had fewer textbooks, worse equipment, and lower performance.

No matter the outcome, white supremacist systems in power never have Black children’s quality of education in mind. Many schools across the country still operate under separate but “equal.” We have to harness our own power: taking control of education within our own homes and communities!

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