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Arguments On Desegregation

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Arguments On Desegregation


The challenge of desegregating schools was brought upon in 1954 by five separate court cases, ultimately joined together and called Brown v. The Board of Education. Though each case was different, they all revolved around the main argument that segregation itself violated the "equal protection under the laws" guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and had detrimental psychological effects on Negroes. Segregation was almost always initiated by whites, and initiated on the basis that blacks were inferior and undesirable. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. When blacks allowed themselves to accept their status at the separate school, the effect on their personalities was perpetually worse than any problem they might encounter in an integrated school. This element became a prominent part of the legal case against segregation (Stephan 9).

The biggest argument against desegregation was the perception that blacks were not as intelligent as whites. Since the Fourteenth Amendment did not guarantee the right to a quality education, if a school chose not to accept them, there was nothing that could be done legally. Long after the "separate but equal" doctrine became law, it was clear that blacks were indeed separate, but they were not equal. Segregation still had a firm hold in the areas of public education, public transportation, hotels and restaurants, hospitals, housing and departments of the United States Government (Stephan 7). An example was the case of McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents of Higher Education in 1950. George McLaurin was admitted on a segregated basis to the graduate school of the University of Oklahoma as a result of a federal district court order. He was required to sit in an anteroom outside of his classes and was given separate tables at the library and cafeteria (Stephan 11).

The expenditure disparity between white and black children was enormous in some areas of the country. In the South, the average expenditure for white children was $44.00, but was only $13.00 for black children. In Georgia, the figures were $35.00 versus $6.00 and in Mississippi, $45.00 versus $5.00. Considering the national average per pupil expenditure was $99.00, it was clear that the school system was separate and unequal and blacks were not receiving their fair share (Stephan 8).

There was also the cost of integrating schools to legal specifications. To minimize transportation costs and to accommodate distinctions between the suburbs and the inner city, the people who were supposed to pay those costs were those who lived near the ghetto inside the inner city limits. Even though the cost was no more than segregation had imposed on middle-class black people, the whites argued that they now had to pay more money in taxes to solve a problem that wasn't their fault. Black children were more likely to attend an inner city school and they felt that in return for their taxes they would receive an increase in crime and a lower standard of education (Stephan 175).

Another major argument regarding desegregation was the ...

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