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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors
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Segregated School Resource Inequality in the 1930's

Since the 1920's the NAACP had taken a stand against school segregation.  As blacks moved to the North more Northern communities had set up segregated school systems even contrary to law or tradition. Black communities in the north were however ambivalent about the segregated schools.  Many felt that such schools protected children against racism and falling behind because of under-preparedness. It was therefore sometimes difficult to get local communities to provide the impetus and support the national office needed for long campaigns against school segregation in the north during this time period. [Source note]  School segregation in the south was a different matter.  The wide discrepancy between the funding for white and black schools. the attempts to withdraw even that little money from black schools in order to fund white schools and the obvious even virulent racism of the school systems, brought the southern school issues into the forefront as the Great Depression deepened.

In the spring of 1932 the Association issued a report that called for a legal campaign to challenge the school segregation laws because they led to a painfully obvious disparity between black and white schools. One of the areas in which segregation was legally vulnerable was the unequal allocation of resources between black and white schools. In November of 1934 Charles Hamilton Houston, the dean of Howard Law School, made a field trip to the south and filmed the disparities in the segregated south. The film was first shown at the 1935 Annual conference of the NAACP

Despite the visual evidence of the disparities in education it proved difficult to use the NAACP's legal strategies to correct it. The teachers in the primary schools were hired by the local whites and many were afraid to risk their livelihoods by bringing legal action against their employers. Some communities were similarly reluctant to risk their schools and their jobs by making waves.  Nevertheless in 1935 Houston persuaded the Virginia teachers association to fight for equal wages.  It established a fund to compensate any plaintiff in a teacher salary case who lost his or her teaching post. They began a legal campaign that would take years to bear fruit. [Source Note]
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