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In these often one-room schools, parents worked with teachers to maintain the physical structures while also supporting cultural events and athletic programs.In addition to cultural capital, as historian James Anderson argues, these families often paid a “black tax” or a double tax because they had to pay local taxes and use their own funds to support their own underfunded black schools.
A year later, congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act, a component of President Lyndon B.
Marshall and his team of NAACP lawyers relied upon the expert legal, historical, and psychological testimonies from Pauli Marshall, John Hope Franklin, and Kenneth and Mamie Clark, whose famous doll test suggested that black children suffered low self-esteem due to learning in segregated environments. On May 17, 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in the case that segregation in the public schools was unequal, it caused an uproar.
For southerners, this decision did not just call for the end of segregated schools, it also threatened the foundation of white supremacy, which was constructed upon destructive stereotypes of black intellectual inferiority and fears of black male sexuality.
This extensive negative reaction coalesced into a strategy called “massive resistance.” In May 1956, 101 congressmen issued the “Southern Manifesto” that declared, “We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation.” On every level from the school board to the state house, southerners fought this decision.
We are familiar with the case in Little Rock, Arkansas, where nine high school students who enrolled in all-white Central High School faced angry mobs and threats from the governor, eventually culminating in President Eisenhower’s call for military action to protect the students.