Case Study: Emmett Scott High School from 1965 to 1970


The purpose of this case study is to examine the roles that educators and students played in the social and academic culture of Emmett Scott High in Rock Hill, South Carolina from 1965 to its closing in 1970. Emmett Scott began in 1920 as a two-story, white frame house in a cotton field near the southern edge of the city. The school educated the city’s Black children for the next 50 years until desegregation closed Emmett Scott. In 1970 Black students were sent to Rock Hill High and Northwestern High as part of the Rock Hill District 3 Desegregation Plan. Although Emmett Scott was closed in 1970, the memory of Emmett Scott High still remains a symbol of pride of the Black community in Rock Hill, South Carolina. It currently operates as a neighborhood center for the community (Stanford, 2004).

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Many of its former students and faculty revere Emmett Scott as a place central not only to the schooling experience but also to the social and cultural development of the students who attended. According to Edna Hall Ramseur, former English teacher, “Emmett Scott High School is still fresh in the minds of many of its former students and teachers. That’s why more than 300 former students and teachers have joined with other community members to ask the Rock Hill school board to name the city’s new high school in honor of the old Emmett Scott building” (Stanford, 2004). Sam Foster, the last principal stated that his memories are strong because:

“The school taught the students not only academics, but also how to live with racism and lack of freedom. Academically, the school had many competent teachers who managed to teach with much fewer resources than what was available in other schools. Socially, the school community was close knit and many of the teachers knew their students and their families personally. Students had opportunities to develop socially, mentally and academically. We had many noteworthy teachers and many who were very capable of teaching.” (Interview Foster, 2008)

Barbara Boulware, a 1958 Emmett Scott graduate, said Emmett Scott still lives today in the hearts of the people here. “We were family. We didn’t have all the things other schools had, but we didn’t know that. We felt the whole person was educated there” (Stanford, 2004).

Based on the interviews with teachers and students in this study, Emmett Scott High School is still an important memory of many of its former students, teachers, administrators and community members. To date, Emmett Scott has not been adequately examined in terms of how the educators and students viewed education, both socially and academically. Clearly, from its inception,the community embraced the school as central to the education of students, but also important as a cultural and social anchor for the larger community. (Foster, Interview 2008)

Prior to 1887, there was limited free public education in Rock Hill for all students, however, what little existed was for Whites only. In 1886, John C. Davis, principal of the Rock Hill Academy for Whites spoke of a crucial need to have a central graded school. In his address to several business members in the community, he emphasized that a graded school provided for curriculum structure of putting students together by academic abilities and social development (White, 1937). The existing system in Rock Hill schools was the classic one room neighborhood school with students of mixed ages, reading levels and intellectual abilities (White, 1937). Joseph J. Hull an editor for the Rock Hill Herald and Reverend James S. Spratt, supporters of Davis, also backed the measure for a central graded school in Rock Hill. Hull stated in his editorial column, “It is highly important and absolutely necessary that something should be done at once looking to an improvement in our local school system. There are already four or five neighborhood schools… and if an early effort is not made towards concentration, we fear it will be too late.” John C. Davis resigned because of lack of local support for a graded school, but Hull kept the issue alive in the local newspaper editorial column (Willoughby, 2002).

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In May of 1887, Reverend James Spratt White, called a meeting of 15 local business men to discuss the matter of financing a central graded school for its White students. Under which official authority Reverend White and and these business men were acting is unclear, but the meeting of community leaders pushed forward and a central graded school was established. These leaders called for a new school district, which would extend one and one half miles in all directions from the center of town. They ultimately decided that two new buildings would be erected, one for the school and the other for the residence of the superintendant of schools. Furthermore, this group agreed that bonds would be issued to purchase land and buildings. The old school house buildings would be sold to help finance other future endeavors. Revered White and his brother A.H. White donated two acres of land and $1000 for the purchase of new buildings and supplies. Citizens later that year approved a two-mill tax to support the measure. On September 3, 1888, Rock Hill Graded School opened its doors and thus the “first truly public, tax-supported graded school” was created in Rock Hill. About 150 students enrolled in the school that year. The Rock Hill Graded School served students up to grade nine and later added grade ten in 1911. Its first Trustees were J.S. White, W.B Wilson, W.L. Roddey, Iredell Jones, J.C. Sharpe, and W.S. Creighton. Professor Alexander Banks was selected as superintendent. Professor Banks was a trained educator who previously served as the principal of Fort Mill Academy (Willoughby, 2002).

During all these proceedings to establish a graded school for Whites in Rock Hill, the Black children were not included in this new local government effort to provide free public education. The responsibility of educating Black students was largely left to the parochial schools that had been established in the area (Willoughby, 2002). The education of Black children was conducted by four parochial schools: Friendship (Baptist) taught by Reverend Mansel. P. Hall and Reverend M. A. Murray; Clinton Institute (Methodist) taught by Reverend J.C. Crockett and Corps; Hermon Presbyterian taught by Reverend C. M. Young and his wife; and St. Paul’s Episcopal taught by Professor Parker. These schools, with the exception of Clinton and Friendship, operated in the church buildings of the denominations mentioned. Their elementary programs were under the general supervision of the Board of Trustees of the Rock Hill School District. However, they never received the same level of funding and support needed to operate as a fully functional graded school (Willoughby, 2002).

Friendship and Clinton were instrumental in bringing education to Blacks in Rock Hill and surrounding counties. In 1891 the Friendship Institute, as it was then named, started when Reverend Mansel P. Hall took up a collection from the area Black Baptist churches to purchase Bibles. However, since the amount exceeded the level needed to support this single effort, Reverend Hall suggested that they use the money to establish a school to train teachers and ministers. Although the purpose for founding Friendship Institute was to train preachers and teachers, the Institute was by necessity an elementary school because there were no public schools for Blacks in Rock Hill until 1920. Friendship served in a dual role as an elementary school and a training program educating many teachers and preachers (Willoughby, 2002).

Friendship was self-sustaining for its first two years of existence. After a two year period, Reverend Hall received $150 from the school board. In 1906, Friendship Institute was chartered as Friendship Normal and Industrial College. Over the years, high school grades were added without much support from the local school district. The $150 paid by the local school board to Friendship accounted for only pennies on the dollar toward each teacher’s salary. The amount was slightly increased until it paid the full amount of the elementary teacher salaries. However, no funds were ever established for the higher grades at Friendship. In 1921, the city opened a grammar school for Black children and Emmett Scott High for Black citizens. As a result, all funds were discontinued to Friendship Institute and Clinton Institute. Friendship operated until 1981 as a two year junior college in which teachers and ministers were trained. It closed its doors in 1981 due to financial negligence by the school administration (Willoughby, 2002).

Several Blacks students who graduated from Emmett Scott later attended Friendship and Clinton Colleges obtaining associates degrees in teaching and ministry. Dr. Osbey Roddey was an Emmett Scott and Friendship graduate who later became a member on the Rock Hill City Council and Professor Elizabeth Ann Reid, an Emmett Scott and Clinton College graduate became the Chairwoman of the Rock Hill School Board in 2000 (Interview with Ann Reid, 2009).

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Students at Friendship College also played a major part in the local 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Robert L. McCullough, who is now deceased, was a civil rights activist, a 1958 alumnus of Emmett Scott and a Friendship student. In 1961 while a student at Friendship College, McCullough created history of sorts when he and eight others, known as the Friendship Nine, refused to pay a fine after their arrest for demanding food at the White only McCory’s Cafeteria. “Mr. McCullough was the informal leader of nine Black students who on Jan. 31, 1961, sat down at the McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill and ordered hamburgers and drinks. They were refused service and arrested for trespassing” (Martin, 2006). They refused bail and preferred to work as part of a chain gang, doing farm work in the York County prison fields and meaningless acts such as moving bricks form one location to another. The slogan “jail, no bail” became the mantra for the Sit-In Movement in Rock Hill. This Gandhi like act became a sensation in the country at that time for its novelty and audacity of refusing bail (Martin, 2006). It also created a new trend in the community because arrested activists could save hard earned money by refusing to pay fines. This also created problems for civic authorities because of the problem of overcrowding in jails. This group of nine students became famous as the Friendship Nine in later years. (Willoughby, 2002)

Clinton was established by Reverend William M. Robinson and Nero Crockett of Mt. Olivet A.M.E Zion Church in 1894 to educate the city’s Black citizens. It was named for Bishop Caleb Isom Clinton, the Palmetto Conference presiding bishop of the A.M.E Zion Conference. Two acres of land on Crawford Road were donated by Civil War veterans W.L. Roddey and L.M. Davis. Roddey was a member of the Rock Hill School board of Trustees and Davis had moved to Rock Hill in 1869 to establish a business when the Charlotte to Columbia railroad began to flourish. Like Friendship, Clinton Normal and Industrial Institution was established to train ministers and teachers. An elementary program was offered and a high school curriculum was added later. The school was incorporated as Clinton Normal and Industrial College in 1909. Clinton College now operates as a junior college in the same location.

Emmett Scott High

After being born (Emmett Scott) much had been done to develop Emmett Scott to bring it into focus. An Alma Mater was born and written by George L. Walker and put to music by Frontis Brooks. A boys and girls basketball team was established. We know that music played a very important part in the Negro race during the early years, therefore, Frontis Books organized a band and Booker T. Brown organized a choir” (Stanford, 2004)

When Mr. John Coleman Cork became the third superintendent of the Rock Hill public schools (1898 – 1911), there was no graded school for African-American children. However, the silence on this matter would change. During the 1913 – 1914 sessions under the administration of Superintendent A. H Gutner, a petition was presented to the all White school board by an attorney for the group of African-American citizens comprised of Z. V. Kennedy, Tim Broomfield, Coles Carter, Lee Cauthen and Tom Archie, asking for the establishment of a central graded school for African-American children. The petition stated that more Negro children would attend school if free tuition were available. The board considered the petition but took no action at that time. In August 1915 another group of African-American citizens asked the board to give them a free public school. Free tuition for Black children through the fifth grade was approved in 1916 though no action was taken on a school. Funds were given to the local parochial schools to fund a portion of the teacher salaries and some supplies (Willoughby, 2002).

It was only when school board member J. C. Cauthen visited the four parochial schools in the Black community that he became convinced that the poor conditions and over-crowded rooms deserved further attention. In March 1919, an order was given by the school board that $75,000 worth of bonds for the purpose of paying the debt service incurred would be needed for making additions to existing buildings. An election was held on April 24, 1919 and the motion to issue bonds carried with 48 votes for and 3 against. These additional revenues would provide sites and buildings for another grammar school for White children in the western part of the city and a combined grammar and high school for Black children on Crawford Road. The contract for the construction of what was to be Emmett Scott High School was awarded to a Mr. Padgett in 1920. Professor Frank Neal, a Black native of Rock Hill, was selected first principal. After the school was occupied, the question of name arose (Willoughby, 2002).

The Black community members came upon the idea of a two-fold project to name the school while raising needed funds for supplies. Several groups of teachers and patrons chose the names of outstanding personalities of the day to sponsor in a contest for a name for the school. Among the names used were Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Kelly Miller and Emmett J. Scott who had been secretary to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee and was a high-ranking government worker in Washington, D.C. Obviously the Emmett Scott Group, led by one of the teachers, Miss Daisy Picketts, won out and the school was named in his honor. Emmett Scott was accredited by the S.C. State Department and was allowed to grant state high school diplomas beginning with the class of 1934 (Whitherspoon, 1997).

From its opening in 1920, five principals served Emmett Scott in its highest leadership role over the ensuing 50 years. Frank H. Neal served from 1920 – 1923, L. B. Moore served 1924 – 1938, Ralph W. McGuirt, more affectionately known to students as “Ballie,” served from 1938 – 1959, W. H. Witherspoon from 1959 – 1967 and Samuel Foster from 1967 – 1970. Emmett Scott’s principals were active in the Rock Hill community before during and after their service as principals. Ralph McGuirt was appointed to the Rock Hill Recreation Commission in 1954 to help with the city’s gradual desegregation plan. The Rock Hill Human Relations Council suggested to the City Council that his appointment would help in the desegregation of the city’s parks and recreation centers. The auditorium (McGuirt Auditorium) at Emmett Scott High, now Emmett Scott Neighborhood Center, is named in his honor. Sam Foster, who was principal when Emmett Scott closed in 1970 was a State Representative and also the first principal of the new Northwestern High School, a post he held from 1971 to 1977. He had a fairly long stint in politics and served as Democratic choice from House District 49 to the South Carolina State Legislature from 1980 to 1992. At the time of his retirement in 2002, he was Commissioner of South Carolina Employment Security Commission. His son, Samuel Foster II, was the first African-American elected by the South Carolina General Assembly to serve on the University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees, a position he has held since 1984 (Black History: Names & Faces: Sam Foster), ( Willoughby, 2002).

Statement of the Problem

At present, there is a paucity of research on the experiences students and educators had at Emmett Scott High. According to Eliza Walker Mill, a 1954 graduate, the closing of Emmett Scott was traumatic to the community. The teachers, students and the community all felt the impact of its closing. She stated, “it was like a bitter pill to swallow… it was like a death… no one on that board understood the value we had to our community.” According to Dempsey and Noblit (1993), comments like Mills’ are echoed about the closing of Black schools during the desegregation period. Black schools in small southern towns were wrongly portrayed as underprivileged educational settings by the political groups that surrounded school desegregation. Unfortunately, this blemish took root in the minds of Black and White political bodies. As a result, a disproportionate number of Black schools were closed in the desegregation process.

From 1965 to 1970 Emmett Scott High faced some its biggest challenges because many students were offered a choice to attend the Rock Hill High School. Thus many of its brightest students and teachers were being farmed out to desegregated Rock Hill High (Willoughby, 2002). In 1954, The Brown v. Board of Education case rendered a decision that, in areas of public accommodation, schools could no longer be separate but equal as had been previously practiced under the Plessy v. Ferguson decision (163 U.S. 537) (1896). School districts across the country were ordered with “all deliberate speed” to institute a desegregation plan to integrate public schools. Many southern school districts implemented a Freedom of Choice plan to circumvent this desegregation ruling, including the Rock Hill School District.

Another major issue to be addressed here is the reason many Black schools were viewed as being of low quality academically, socially and culturally (Walker, 1996). Clearly during the Freedom of Choice period from 1965 to 1970 the true ethos of Black schools was unnoticed. This research revealed that lack of knowledge about the social and academic culture at Black schools is left out of the discourse.

However, Emmett Scott teachers and students viewed the school as paramount to their development; secondly students believed that they received a good education despite the fact that they had fewer resources, that their teachers where paid less and that the school received less funds when compared to White schools (Walker, 1996).

This case study of Emmett Scott examined the issues of culture and academic characteristics of segregated schooling of Black students. The issues in this case study can be answered by ensuring a broader context of understanding about the Black educational experience, its driving force and the institutions behind Emmett Scott’s success both within the four walls of the classroom and in the community as well (Long, 2005, p. 29).

This study illuminated what happened at Emmett Scott during these years from 1965 to its closing in 1970 from the perspectives of the Black faculty and student body. Furthermore, this case study has complemented current research on the segregated educational experience of Black students and faculty. A seminal work on Black schooling is that of Hyde County, North Carolina, by David S. Cecelski. Along Freedom Road discusses how the African-American community there opposed desegregation methods in favor retaining their own schools. George Noblit and Van Dempsey (1996) echoed the same sentiment that Black children lost a portion of their community and culture when forced to attend the traditional all White school (Noblit, G., & Dempsey, V. 1996).

Toward augmenting this important part of the Black educational experience in South Carolina the seemingly countless silent voices of the Emmett Scott students, faculty and other respondents can now be heard and enshrined into the research world (Gibson, 2002, p. 2).

Moreover, this case study serves as an introductory point for other researchers on the Black educational system ensuring that the legacy of ‘self taught’ education of the Blacks during the Civil War and afterwards will be remembered (Randolph, 2007; Perry & Delpit, 1998, p. 9). Black education in many parts of the United States was discouraged after the Civil War (Morris & Morris, 2000, p. 5). It was indeed a bumpy road for Blacks to ‘have a dream’ in education (Bonner & Evans, 2004, p. 4).

Research Questions

To explore my research questions, I have deliberately chosen Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a framework, research method and analysis tool. Gloria Ladson-Billings, a leading theorist and qualitative researcher examines how CRT builds on the discourse and the relevancy of ‘‘ethnic epistemologies’’ in qualitative research (Ladson-Billings 2000). In her article, Racialized discourses and ethnic epistemologies, CRT is situated within in a multidisciplinary context for how CRT can be employed in educational research and practice. She outlined the benefits of a CRT approach to qualitative research:

The ‘‘gift’’ of CRT is that it unapologetically challenges the scholarship that would dehumanize and depersonalize us…. In CRT the researcher makes a deliberate appearance in his or her work… The deeply personal rendering of social science that CRT scholars bring to their work helps break open the mythical hold that traditional work has on knowledge… CRT helps to raise some important questions about the control and production of knowledge…particularly knowledge about people and communities of color. (p. 272, 2000)

She sketched how CRT can be used as both theory and method that guides how we view the research context, but also profiles how we carry out research in that environment.

As well, Parker and Lynn have (2002) examined the ways in which qualitative studies examined race in educational research and further discussed the using CRT as a tool to not only transform our research practices but also to provide alternatives to inherently racist research practices that further marginalize communities of color. Of particular importance was the development of a critical race methodology for conducting qualitative research that was also expressed by Solórzano and Yosso (2002a, b, c). They define a critical race methodology as:

… a theoretically grounded approach to research that (a) foregrounds race and racism in all aspects of the research process;… (b) challenges the traditional research paradigms, texts, and theories used to explain the experiences of students of color; (c) offers a liberatory or transformative solution to racial, gender, and class subordination; and (d) focuses on the racialized, gendered, and classed experiences of students of color. Furthermore, it views these experiences as sources of strength and uses the interdisciplinary knowledge base of ethnic studies, women’s studies, sociology, history, humanities, and the law to better understand the experiences of students of color. (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002c, p. 24)

These CRT scholars state that critical race methodology in educational research can provide the necessary impetus for changes in the way that communities of color are studied and written about. Parker, along with Lopez (2003), further explored the link between CRT and qualitative research methodology. Their discussions regarding issues such as “racial identity and personal narrative in writing and conducting research on race; the invisibility of marginalized communities of color in the research process and the role that CRT can play in helping to enhance research methodologies and race-conscious policies in higher education.” Finally, Critical Race Theory is further expounded upon in Chapter 2 under theoretical framework methodology and analysis tool.

Albeit, the guiding research theme was one that focused on developing a fuller understanding of the separate education experience of a small Black community in rural South Carolina. Toward augmenting that history the researcher, through interviews, sought to examine the perceptions and views that students and faculty had from 1965 to 1970. Specifically, the researcher sought to understand additional questions that might shed light on the academics and social ethos. The following questions were identified in order to help guide the nature and direction of the personal interviews:

  1. What was the academic culture of Emmett Scott High School?
  2. What was the social culture of Emmett Scott High School?
  3. What were the faculty views on their role in the education of their students at Emmett Scott High School?
  4. What were students’ views and perception about their teachers and administrators at
  5. Emmett Scott High School?
  6. What are the narratives and stories associated with the desegregation period and the closing of Emmett Scott High School?

Significance of the Study

It has been 54 years since the Brown et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas legal case was decided by the Supreme Court. This historic ruling overturned the duel system mandated under the 1896 Plessey v. Ferguson and banned segregated public educational facilities. The Brown ruling indicated a fundamental shift in opinion on the part of the Court and called for far-reaching changes in the American educational system. Because of the historic nature of the Brown case, the carrying out of desegregation plans and their far reaching effects have justly received a great deal of attention in public policy documents and in the literature of numerous fields. The researcher believes it is important to bring life to the history and stories of this school and through guided interviews the researcher will bring to light a new knowledge base grounded in actual individuals’ perceptions of the educational change. The researcher’s goal ultimately, therefore, is to tell a rich contextual story that will give a voice to these perceptions.

The study has great significance in society today because through the study it has been possible to understand some of the major issues that are related to racism and discrimination in society and its impacts or effects especially to the people on whom it is being practiced. The study of Emmett Scott High School may help clarify the many persistent issues of racism in academic institutions today. Through this process of building an understanding by giving voice to the past we may learn more about how racism takes place in society and how it can deny some of the people in society equal opportunities (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004).

Further, through the study, we continue to examine the many specific challenges that come with an attempt to apply notions of equity and social justice. And, through our collective history we begin to learn that all people in the society, whether White or Black, are equal and they all deserve equal opportunities in the society, but putting that belief into practice continues to be a daunting challenge. When however, we fail to articulate the true, and often difficult, histories of marginalized groups, we risk repeating the case of this school where people continue to be discriminated against and, as a result, lose their voice and are forced to live in the silence of secondary status (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004).

Also, this study is important in that it gives voice to a cadre of students, teachers and one administrator so that they might tell a story that has been missing. Future educators can learn from these stories about community, social justice and respect. The absence of the voices of educators of color signals a significant gap not only in the research literature, but in both academic and localized discourses on race and education (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004). Consequently, it is imperative that we solicit the views and perspectives of these educators if we wish to tackle effectively the educational inequities to which students of color continue to be subjected. Regrettably, these unjust actions continue to be practiced by people in power and as such it is vitally important that any information regarding such situations be highlighted so that action can be taken against the institutions (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004).

Definition of Terms

For the sake of clarity it is necessary to define my use of several terms. For the purpose of this study the following operational definitions apply:

Black(s) – In this dissertation I used the word “Black” to denote people whose ancestral, geographical origins are in the African continent. I opted for this term because it is currently the most widely accepted descriptor for people of color. In some places in the study that provide historical or background information, the words Black, Negro, Colored or African-American are used, since at various eras in the United States these were the commonly used terms and they are used in the works cited. I capitalized these labels, as well as the word White, because each denotes a socially constructed category of people (Omi and Winant, 1993) that continues to carry considerable weight in everyday life.

Segregated Refers to the duel education system in which Black and White people were separated in places of public accommodation (Wilson & Segall, 2001),

Desegregation Refers to the dismantling of dual, segregated educational systems that were separated along color or racial/ethnic lines. I elected to use the term desegregation, rather than integration, because it is a more accurate descriptor. In both communities the desegregation process consisted of allowing Black children to attend schools to which they were formerly denied access – it did not entail across-the-board, wholesale integration of entire school populations. Nonetheless, some participants used the word integration and participants are quoted verbatim.

Freedom of Choice PlanA desegregation policy enacted in Rock Hill School District 3

and elsewhere to comply with federal desegregation laws. Freedom of Choice plans removed restrictive attendance boundary limitations; thereby permitting students’ parents to select the school that they wished their children to attend (Hughes, Gordon &Hillman, 1980; Southern Regional Council, 1966).

Limitations, Delimitation and Assumptions


The following assumptions were made in undertaking this study:

  1. Participants had adequate teaching and schooling experience during the study’s time frame of 1965 to 1970 to enable them to provide detailed information.
  2. Participants may have felt reluctant to discuss issues which had a traumatic effect on their lives. Every effort was made to establish a sense of rapport and trust. Interviewees were told that there were no incorrect answers to questions asked, that their views were important, and that anonymity could be requested.
  3. Participants were reflective individuals capable of expressing their opinions and describing their experiences. During interviews, participants accurately related information to the best of their knowledge and recollections.


The following limitations helped to restrict the focus of the research:

  1. This study investigated the experiences of Black educators and students at Emmett Scott High.
  2. The participants represented a sample only. All students and teachers from the said time frame were not interviewed.
  3. The work did not consider the perspectives of White teachers or students unless they were brought up by interviewees. While it is likely that such individuals have insights on the topic, the focus was on Black educators and students because their stories have seldom been heard.
  4. This project was limited to a consideration of the years 1965 to 1970. This time span was selected in order to provide a picture of the period of entrenched segregation.

Organization of the Study

This dissertation is organized into four chapters. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the essence of the research topic and defined the guiding and specific research questions addressed in this investigation. A brief history on the formation of Rock Hill Public School development and the emergence of Emmett Scott is discussed. To explain the scope of topics of the case study, operational definitions, assumptions, and limitations are defined. Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature relevant to the study. Topics include the history of Black education in the South, an examination of selected desegregation lawsuits, the influence the Brown decision had on Black students and teachers and theoretical framework. Chapter 3 presents the design methodology used for the case study. As well, this case study describes the participant selection process, pilot study, interview questions and details the methodologies used in the study. Chapter 4 presents a profile of each participant in order to help the reader understand the educators and students as individuals. As well, it presents the findings and themes as related to the specific research questions. The findings of the study are discussed in terms of categories and sub-categories revealed by narrative analysis of the interview transcriptions.

Literature Review

In this chapter, a comprehensive review of literature that is relevant to Black schooling will provide a historical perspective of Black education systems in America. The chapter shall present information inclusive of a systematic review of the education system for Blacks in the southern region of the United States of America so as to demonstrate and give insights into the policies, social practices and laws that resulted in the alienation of Blacks in the social, political, economical and education arena. The chapter will also explicitly present and conclusively discuss selected desegregation legal cases with specific focus paid to the landmark ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case and present the rulings in detail. The purpose of highlighting and discussing this legal decision in depth is due to the profound significance and implications it holds in history of Black education that led to the de jure dismantling of segregated schools. As well, this chapter presents Critical Race Theory as a theoretical framework that acted as a guide in this research.

The current education system in the United States presents the view that while a great deal has changed, problems are still noticeable. This continues to be evident even when universal, free, tax-supported education has become the law of the land (Woodward, 1957). For example, Campbell (1996), Macleod (1987) and Sagor (1996) found out that Black students continue to fall behind Whites in performance on norm-referenced tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Tests. In their studies of schools in South Carolina, the authors found that Black students either drop out or are pushed out of these schools at a rate 6% higher than their White counterparts. This is compounded by the observation that over 50% of Black males fail state comprehensive tests on their first attempts. Wallace (2002) has also found evidence to support the fact that there are higher school dropouts among Blacks. As Bennet (2007) notes, Blacks are presented as being emotionally unstable and behaviorally constrained, relative to their White counterparts.

Disparities continue to be evident especially in the levels of achievements between Blacks and Whites. Hale-Benson (1986) supports this when he states that the educational system has not been very effective in educating Black students, perhaps because it evolved out of a European context. This raises concerns that the current educational environment may not be suitable for Blacks, given that the number of students and teachers from race continues to fall (Gentry, 1994).

Opinions continue to be divided on whether genuine educational equity is in existence and whether affirmative action should be taken. Opponents of the affirmative action present the view that the education system in America presents equal opportunities for all to excel, and the question of performance, as it were, is directly dependent on the efforts made towards such attainments and excellence. Critics, however, argue that the emphasis on the individual is a thinly veiled attempt at covering the inequalities that exist and the continued racism that permeates the educational systems and the wider society at large, and is a misrepresentation of the social values that are played out in the society on a daily basis (Tatum, 1997). Banks states that in order to gain a better perspective and develop a sound framework that can address the present disconnects in the education systems, tribute should be paid to the historical developments of the educations systems, especially as far as Blacks are concerned (Banks, 1999).

Prohibition of the Education of Blacks before the Civil War

A look into the history and development of education in the past, especially in the case of Blacks, points at some disturbing revelations. Beginning with the first African indentured servants into the United States and throughout the duration of the slave period, African-American were treated as inferior people both socially and legally (Jones, 1978) and denied basic human rights, education included. Woodson (1968) perhaps illustrates this better when he states that slaves were stripped of all their individuality as human beings and denied all manner of rights, including the right to education. Likewise Fanon (1967) states, education for Black people was denied completely and such populations were expected to conform to color-based systems and classes deemed inferior to the dominant population. The major disappointment to all this was perhaps the misconstrued notion that this was indeed legal, the case in point being the ruling in 1857 in the Dred Scot v. Sanford Supreme Court whose decision reiterated the legal view that Blacks were property, not people (Fanon,1967)

Gordon (1971) and Edgar (1998) state that Blacks entered South Carolina through the gates of toil. In their opinion, their mission was one of burden bearer. Starting from the mid-eighteenth century, Blacks witnessed the virtual elimination of formal education and literacy training in many southern states. This was to continue with the passages of legislations that saw education for Blacks as being confined to the most rudimentary levels and where there was no mixing of races in the schools (Williamson, 1990). The unanimous acceptance of the misconstrued notion that Blacks were inherently inferior to Whites was the operative belief (Edgar, 1998). This was further illustrated by the fact that Whites kept their children from schools attended by Blacks and were determined that no Blacks could step into their schools (Williamson, 1990). Cremin (1980) develops this point when he notes that the underlying factors on whether or not Blacks could be educated hinged upon the temperament of the slave owner. (Jones, 1984; Edgar, 1998)

Some education was awarded at the end of the Civil War with adjustments to the US Constitution in the form of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 that ended slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment was also enacted in 1868 which allowed the former slaves to be legally recognized as American citizens. Finally, The Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 gave the right to vote to Black males (Jones, 1984). These Amendments were steps in the right direction and marked positive advancements in the legal status of Blacks (Bartholomew, 1974). There was also the passage of the Civil Rights bill in 1875. This also gave rise to the establishment of the Federal Freedmen’s Bureau Programs in the South which greatly enhanced the social, political and educational wellbeing of Blacks in the South. As Gordon (1971) states, these amendments were long overdue.

However, the election of 1876 in which neither presidential candidate received a majority of the electoral votes cast to be declared a winner, a deal was struck by the Republicans in which they would withdraw federal troops and Freedman’s Bureau officials from the occupied South. Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) became the President and Sam Tilden, his Democratic opponent, withered into history. Along with Tilden and the end of the Reconstruction Era were the advances made under these federal laws, amendments and congressional acts. This action signaled that the protection of constitutional rights of Blacks was no longer seen as a priority or even as a function of the federal government (Weinberg, 1977). In the South in particular, this action allowed for the establishment of numerous “Jim Crow” laws intended to subjugate Blacks by assigning them lesser statuses and socially segregating them from the dominant population. In the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, the Supreme Court ruling institutionalized these practices by affirming that separate race-based public facilities were constitutional provided that facilities for both races were of equal quality.

In 1883, the Supreme Court nullified the Civil Rights Bill and declared it unconstitutional. Essentially, this meant that the rights of Blacks were no longer protected in the constitution (Weinberg, 1977). Again, the federal government no longer considered the protection of Blacks important nor did it consider it a priority in the design and implementation of its governing policies meaning that once again, the few gains that had been attained in the political, social and educational arenas were subjects to discriminatory agendas.

Learning during the Slave Era

The first Africans are believed to have arrived in America in 1619 as indentured servants and settled in Jamestown, Virginia (Franklin & McNeil, 1995). These Africans are thought to have spread over the decades to the southern states of New England and middle colonies. They were similar to the poor English indentured servants who had traded for many years in labor in exchange for passage to America. By 1640, they had become landowners particularly in the South. The popular conception of a race-based slavery system had not developed until around 1700. Slavery became ingrained after this period, but the legal recognition of these varied from state to state (Anderson, ?). At the first American census held in 1790, there were less than 700,000 slaves in America, but this had risen to over two million by 1830 and continued to rise such that by the Civil War, the total population of these slaves stood at over four million (U.S Census Bureau).

The slaves were required to maintain their statuses as property for eternity. The passage of the Fundamental Constitution of 1669 in South Carolina, which the lord proprietors had framed to govern the colony of South Carolina, for example, sanctioned slavery (Edgar, 1998). These Africans were forced into bondage and denied the very basic of human rights (Mannix, 1962; Sobel, 1988).

Laws and policies were passed in America by Whites in order to safeguard their status in society, and many of these also affected the education system for Blacks (Baer & Jones, 1990; Woodson, 1933). These included laws that made it illegal to educate Blacks. This was enforced especially after the Stono Rebellion where the teaching of reading and writing was largely discouraged and eventually banned in the south. For example, a law was passed in 1695 in Maryland which levied a fine of one thousand pounds of tobacco on persons caught teaching Blacks, even when they were free (Johnson, 1969).

In 1740, a South Carolina law made it a crime to teach slaves (Irons, 2002). The reason Whites discouraged and even outlawed education for Blacks was that Whites believed education spoiled the slaves and was not required at all for a field hand. In their opinions, Black slaves were investments and were to serve as mere tools, sorely for the economic benefits of Whites (Bullock, 1967). However, the slaves believed education was good for them (Johnson, 1969). In fact, Anderson, (John, 1984) has noted that the efforts by Whites to prevent the slaves from learning caused slaves to seek education even more.

The first decade of the 19th century saw all states in the South pass laws providing for the eventual termination of educating slaves (Urban & Wagoner, 1996). For example, a law was passed in 1830 in Louisiana that outlawed access to any form of literature that might insight Blacks against the continuing oppressions and which might make them rebellious. Violations of these laws resulted in heavy punishments including sentencing to jail, hard labor or even death (Murray, 1953).

Slave labor was tied to many facets of agricultural production. As a result, it was essential that slaves be properly taught to carry out their specified duties. In order to enhance the effectiveness of their operations, plantation owners scrutinized keenly age, sex, strength and astuteness when assigning labor. According to Brown, this informal process of assessing slaves’ abilities was put in place despite the 1830 law. In some cases, slaves were taught how to read, write or do arithmetic in accordance with their designated roles. In other cases, slaves were taught these skills by liberal or curious plantation owners’ wives, or even by bored children looking for a playmate. Some slaves educated brothers, sisters and other relatives secretly, knowing full well that they could be punished. Woodson (1933) has noted that covert schools operated in most towns in the South prior to the Civil War. In South Carolina, individuals who engaged in the practice were violating the established law in the state. Rothstein (1996) notes that, “teaching a slave to read was a criminal offense punishable by death.'” While this might have been one of the 165 capital punishment laws on the books in South Carolina, it certainly was not enforced against a White person. Many planters and mistresses taught their slaves to read. While literate slaves were small in number, they were widespread across the state.

According to Murray, a series of inadvertent events that presented some opportunities for Blacks to receive a rudimentary education was in effect (Murray, 1953). For example, to enhance efficiency in production, planters had to hire farmhands who were strong and intelligent (Johnson, 1969). This is perhaps best illustrated by Bullock (1967) who asserts that; “The inclination of certain owners to respond to the sheer challenge offered by a slave’s brightness of mind and gift of talents gave added impetus to the invasion of the plantation society by sentimentalism. Many masters placed such slaves under the tutelage of master craftsmen” (p.6)

The interactions between Whites and Blacks presented some opportunities for extension of education to Blacks. For example, Sarah Ginke, one of the aristocratic daughters of J. F Ginke, initiated the practice of reading by the fire light (Bullock, 1967; Bushkovitch, 1992). Even literate Blacks could teach their siblings, friends, wives and husbands cunningly; although aware of the consequences that would befall them should they be caught. The church also provided an avenue where slaves could learn, which perhaps established the church-learning tradition or culture that is observed in the society to date (Woodson, 1993). Blacks understood that through education, they could gain a powerful tool that could advance their well-being in the society and which the White man would not take away. Essentially, while the planter class would take away their possessions and even basic rights and status, they could not take away the knowledge and skills gained through education (Dickens, 1939; Franklin, 1990). This provided the motivation to continue looking out for learning opportunities even though it was prohibited under the law (Webber, 1978).) The efforts bore fruit since by the end of slavery more than five percent had managed to learn how to read and write. (Randall & Donald, 1969). While this number was still low, comparatively speaking, it was nonetheless a positive indication and definitely a move in the right direction.

As the slave era neared its end in 1865, about five percent of slaves had managed to learn to read (Randall & Donald, 1969). Approximately 250,000 free Blacks also lived in the South at the time (Kujovich, 1992). Anderson points out that Blacks emerged from slavery with a strong belief in the desirability of learning to read and write. This belief was expressed in pride with which they talked of other ex-slaves who learned to read and write in slavery, and in the esteem in which they held literate Blacks. Their anger at slavery for keeping them illiterate was expressed with intensity and frequency. A Freedmen’s account reported, “There is one sin that slavery committed against me,” professed one ex-slave, “which I will never forgive. It robbed me of my education.” (Anderson, 1988, p. 5) This brief, but powerful excerpt points to the extricable link between the concept of self and education in the mind-set of the newly emancipated Black person.

Development of Education for Blacks after the Civil War with the Establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau

The Civil War saw very few Black schools survive the hardships of war as there was little to no financial assistance. This was essentially because the schools could not operate without the sanctioning of Whites. At the time, local aid from all White school boards and their support for education was very slow to materialize if it existed at all (Edgar, 1998). At the end of the Civil War, about four million freed slaves lived in the 11 confederate states. The Freedmen’s Bureau was set up on March, 3, 1865 to address the freed slaves’ issues (Morris, 1980). The bureau attempted to meet the immediate needs of the freed slaves such as food, clothing and shelter, while also trying to assist Blacks in developing their economies and create some form of enhanced well-being and stability.The Freedmen’s Bureau divided the former confederates’ territory into 10 districts with an assistant commissioner overseeing each district (Hornsby, 1973). This number rose to 12 districts by 1866, and extended its jurisdiction over 19 states in the South (Elliott, 1952).

The Freedmen’s Bureau started developing plans for the establishment of schools for freed slaves. This was initiated in 1866 through the sale of abandoned lands and houses destroyed and left bare or uninhibited after the Civil War. The proceeds of these sales went to support the Bureau’s educational efforts (Peirce, 1971). These initiatives were not welcomed by Whites who resented the Bureau’s initiatives and existence for that matter anyway (Vernon, 1993).

Whites were certainly not willing to spend money on the education of Blacks. Since financing would be required for any type of education, most Whites only favored appropriating funds for the most elementary of educations (Franklin, 1994). Former planters feared that an educated person would certainly dissent and express reservations about the social and economic injustices that were prevalent at the time and agitate for more and, as Du Bois and Dill (1911) note, ‘forget his place in the social hierarchy’. Whites expressed fears that once Blacks became literate, they would lose the labor necessary to drive productivity in their farms, even in the case of hired hands (Peirce, 1971). Rice (1971) went further and argued that some Whites long held distorted beliefs that Blacks were genetically inferior, and thus believed any advanced expenditure through education would be a futile waste of time and money. Therefore, not surprisingly, very few education endeavors for the freedmen took place during this period. For instance, few teachers were present and the few that were mainly came from the northern states under the auspices of the philanthropic organizations or religious societies such as the American Missionaries Association (Jones, 1992). These teachers were met with hostility and faced real threats of violence from Whites (Morris, 1981).

Although freedmen education was being met with difficulties, some progress was nonetheless achieved. This can be noted by the increases in the number of schools as compared to the slave era. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided support in these ventures through offering funds for the construction of buildings, transportation of teachers and supervision, although they did not engage in the day-to-day running of such schools. At the time of peak operations in 1869, approximately 248,000 Black students were enrolled in Freedmen’s Bureau schools (Margo, 1990). The largest portion of the education monies came from the Freedmen’s Bureau, but on a local basis individuals including Whites contributed to the system through gifts, taxes or donations of lands or buildings. Some students were required to pay tuition in some instances, with the amounts averaging $1.5 per student (Elliot, 1992). However, these tuition fees were to the students prohibitive, considering that the students were earning very little from their labor and were also expected to contribute to their families.

The dual form of schooling was still being sanctioned during this time period. This was perhaps due to the opposition from Whites towards Blacks’ education that may have made it difficult for the Bureau to establish an integrated school system. Thus, even with the advent of formalized forms of education, racial sanctioning was still very evident. The popular belief was that the races should not mix and was evident in such practices as Florida and North Carolina laws that allowed for the separate placement of educational materials for Whites and Blacks (Akin, 1994).

Despite all these issues, the number of native schools rose significantly during the period. These were the schools that were founded by individual Blacks. These concerted efforts at acquiring education by Blacks are best echoed by John W. Alford, the national Superintendent of Freedmen’s schools who noted that Blacks’ educational quest was insatiable (Anderson, 1988). Anderson presents a slightly different view of the Freedman’s Bureau and northern philanthropic schools. The first school established in the South with the objective of educating the Black was in Fortress Monroe, Virginia in September 1864. In 1865 the Freedmen’s Bureau took control of these school systems, which then included 126 schools, 19,000 pupils and 100 teachers. According to James Anderson (Anderson, 1988, p. 9) the notion was that benevolent missionaries of the North who took up the cause of educating the illiterate racial minority of the South were solely responsible for educating the Black community. The general tax that was used by the Freedmen’s Bureau to fund the expenses of providing education was scraped on military orders. The Freedmen replaced the federal schools with the free local schools. Despite this measure, there were independent private schools being run by Blacks which were by far more successful as more students enrolled in their institutions. The work by Anderson also negates the concept that the institutions established by the Black people lacked organization and thus were haphazard. Blacks cherished literacy because to them it was tantamount to liberty. Blacks saw education as a ticket to freedom and liberty. The concept of universal education which was engrained in the constitution of South Carolina as a fundamental right was mainly due to the efforts of the leaders of the Black community (Anderson, 1988, p. 9).

The curriculum taught in freedmen’s schools included basic mathematics, geography and writing. Bible studies were also taught at least one day every week. The typical class started at 8:00 in the morning and concluded in the early afternoon. It has also been noted that the freedmen teachers were very devoted in their work and considered the services they were offering a divine calling (Hoffman, 2003; Jones, 1992). These teachers did not only cover normal class work but also dedicated a great deal of time towards teaching the students religious and moral instruction, and even extended these by visiting the students and their families at home (Parker, 1954). The majority of these teachers were middle class educated White women (Butchart, 1990), but it is also important to note the significant roles played by Black teachers. As Butchart (1990) has noted, although the population of Blacks was only 1.2% of the New York State population, 15.1% of the Freedmen’s Bureau teachers were Blacks. These teachers preferred staying in the South and were mostly assigned to remote locations and paid far less than their White counterparts (Jones, 1992). The teachers believed that they could better uplift their race given that they had a better understanding of their peculiarities, needs and necessities (Butchart, 1990).

Also, many school administrators did not prefer hiring Black teachers and used such tactics as holding teacher preparations and qualification examinations at different times or places out of the fear of mixing the two races (Rabinowitz, 1974).

The supply of qualified, skilled and dedicated teachers continued to be low at this time. This was because, despite the obvious devotion of the available Black teachers, the bureau faced the difficulty in securing and retaining enough of them to meet the current and perceived future demands of Black children. At times, the teachers were barely literate themselves and were useless as educators (Bentley, 1955). This brought up the need for establishing a teachers’ training institution that would generate well-trained teachers to meet the prevailing demand. The funds for these were obtained largely from benevolent society funds which were aggregated together. These ventures saw the establishment of more than 11 Black colleges and universities and 61 normal schools in operation by 1871 (Bentley, 1955).

The Reconstruction Act of 1867, as far as education was concerned, meant that the citizens were entitled to tax free education. This, together with the Freedmen’s Bureau sponsorship of schools, definitely raised hope among the people who viewed gaining knowledge as the path to their salvation. However, these were intended from the onset to be only temporary vehicles, and the Bureau’s aim was to establish a system of education that would be self-sustaining in the long run. In fact, in 1869, congress eliminated the Freedmen’s Bureau with the exception of the educational programs which were to cease operations in 1870 (Peirce, 1971). At that juncture, many of the schools closed and the rest were turned over to the auspices of religious and philanthropic societies that helped sponsor them (Bentley, 1955). Clearly, however, the groundwork for the establishment of a dual and unequal education system for Blacks and Whites had been laid. This system would define the Black education system for many years to come (Foner, 1988).

Reconstruction Period

The Jim Crow laws continued to flourish as the segregationists’ democrats took over the reins of both local and state politics after the reconstruction period (Nyaggah & Gethaiga, 1995). The segregation of races continued to abide with laws prohibiting interracial marriages and social interactions in public and social places (Woodward, 1957). Black Southerners continued to exist in social systems that virtually denied them the rights to vote and have control over their labor and, at times, even to be considered citizens of America (Anderson, 1998).

The growth of Black education developed under the above political, social and economic climates. The new democrats reduced the states’ per capita spending for Black education by more than half while increasing spending for Whites. This meant that the education for Blacks worsened. This is perhaps best described by Jones (1984) who notes that:

The conservative regime was niggardly in spending, reluctant to tax, and especially leery on expenditure for negro education. Many conservative democrats or bourbons came from circles who had felt that education was strictly parental responsibility and who still did not want pay to educate somebody else kids.(p.21)

While many southern states had accepted education for most, segregation was entrenched meaning that the two races were schooled in different facilities (Emerson, 2003). Some Whites encouraged the education of Blacks, but the majority continued to discourage such education. The funds appropriated to the financing of Blacks’ education were basically structured towards the provision of elementary education (Franklin, 1994). This meant that not only was the funding of Blacks’ education controversial, but the exact type of education that they could receive, if any at all, was debatable (Anderson, 1988).

The US Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (discussed below) provided legal authority through the doctrine of ‘equal but separate’ that gave the mandate for the existence of different facilities for Blacks and Whites as long as they were of equal quality (Raffel, 2002; Thomas, 1997). In this way, the rigid wall of separation between Whites and Blacks were sanctioned by the federal government. As Franklin (1994) states, the laws, courts, schools and other institutions in the South favored White rule.

The Freedmen’s Bureau and its associated financial contributions were withdrawn in 1870, meaning that schools for Blacks were required to fund their educational initiatives on their own. While the states were required to provide support to Black schools by law through the taxes collected, these revenues were mostly appropriated elsewhere (Pierce, Kincheloe, Moore, Drewry & Carmichael, 1955). As Edgar (1998) comments, while funding for the education of Black people was given a bit of priority during the reconstruction period, the majority of the monies advanced towards this cause were misappropriated.

Higher education received some focus when congress extended the 1862 Morrill Act to apply to Blacks in 1890. This measure provided for the establishment of institutions of higher learning offering courses in scientific, technical and industrial training for Blacks (Klein, 1930). As a result, South Carolina State Normal and Industrial (now South Carolina State University) College was founded in 1898. There are 18 such 1890 Land Grant Universities.

Philanthropic organizations played a big role in the establishment and development of Black education both in the North and South. The Peabody Education Foundation was one such body. It was started in 1867 for the establishment and support of colleges destroyed during the civil strife. For example, the Peabody Foundation helped raise $150,000 for the support of Black education and helped in the establishment of many colleges and high schools in the South. Another such body, the Southern Education Foundation, was set up in 1901 and assisted southern education for Blacks. More foundations were formed in later years like the Ann T. Jeanes Foundation (Negro Rural School Fund) which began in 1908 and whose efforts were the advancement of Blacks education in rural areas (Pincham, 2005). This was followed by the Julius Rosenwald Fund, formulated in 1913, to assist rural American schools (Southern Education Foundation, 1979). This fund helped erect over 5,000 Black schools in the South between 1913 and 1932 (Hughes, Gordon & Hillman, 1980).

The purposes of education became the major question with the advent of the new century. As Watkins (2001) notes, the question of the day in the early decades of nineteenth century were not so much a debate on whether or not Blacks could access education but more on the type of education. This has been a major issue of debate among scholars, and one major focus has been the intent on educational foundations which were advanced at the time. For example, while Smith (1950) describes the philanthropic organizations in glowing terms, Harlan (1958) reads these organizations with disdain, expressing the opinion that they were formulated with underhanded motives. Harlan (1958) cites the case of Peabody and Slater funds as having been established to render assistance to schools that trained Blacks for low paying, low status jobs. Several authors (Anderson, 1988; Brodwin, 1972; Bullock, 1970) have especially focused on the divergence in opinions between Booker Taliaferro Washington and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, on the forms of education that Blacks could be provided.

Washington was of the view that education should be focused on the learning of skills or a vocation that would be useful to both Blacks and the White society (Franklin, 1994). His belief was that acquiring skills that could lead to employment and financial liberation would act as a stepping stone towards political liberation (Banner-Haley, 1994). This was why he emphasized industrial and vocational training at Tuskegee Institute, and his principles were instrumental in the formation of the National Negro Business League (Cohen, 1974). Washington believed that the education of Blacks should be focused on the acquisition of low-skilled occupational trades such as masonry, carpentry, blacksmithing, agriculture and other manual arts for the men. The occupational training for the females on the other hand,was meant to focus on basic domestic arts such as cooking, sewing and housekeeping (Franklin, 1994).

Booker T. Washington’s views gained popularity because of his strong emphasis on economic gains and financial freedom to be reaped. However, this industrial type of education for Blacks did not bring economic success or equity due to competition from the more skilled White workers and restrictions imposed on Blacks in the job markets. As Franklin (1994) notes, ‘what was thought to be the basis for economic stability was in the end an experiment that failed” (p. 275). Some Blacks even viewed Washington as having been a sellout to his race (Buchanan & Hutcheson, 1999).

Du Bois believed the true liberation of Blacks could be acquired through intellectual development and education, and not through mere training on basic and manual skills (Bond, 1967). He saw a potential force in the role of teachers who had received college education, and held the belief that such teachers would play a central and crucial role in this liberation struggle (Du Bois, 1903), and believed that Blacks could advance more socially and politically through better education. He was a radical agitator for civil rights and equality of the Black people (Franklin, 1994).

The book ‘Du Bois on Education’ by Eugene F. Provenzo Jr. is a collection of essays which shed light on the making of the man called Du Bois who fired the passion for education in the Black community. There are pieces which recount the difficulties and the hypocrisies of the White men in power who, on the surface, were trying to help the deprived Black community to acquire liberal education but, in fact, were making hollow claims. He describes how the Slater fund board initially denied him the loan to fund his studies in Germany which was essential for the completion of his thesis on suppression of slave trade in America. He coerced the board into issuing the loan by saying he would beg for money from his colleagues and acquaintances at Harvard to go abroad. The collection of essays is autobiographical and reveals the biases faced by him. Racial discrimination was present even in prestigious institutions like Harvard. Du Bois was denied membership of the famous Glee Club despite having a sonorous voice. Du Bois’ essay Does the Negro need a separate school presents a very controversial point of view in the decade following the 1940s when there was movement for desegregating the educational institution in America. He was a pragmatic thinker who was not carried away by the emotional appeal of the movement. He had studied in all White institutions and had experienced discrimination. He was in favor of the segregated Black schools because they were staffed by Black teachers who were sympathetic to their cause because they had faced the same hardships. He believed that, for the empowerment of Blacks, education was a must and the issue of mixed and segregated schools was of lesser importance. He denounced Jim Crow by saying that Jim’s educational system was major hurdle in the attainment of true democracy. But he was not in favor of completely dismantling the segregated schools which were built by the mutual hard work of the Black community and philanthropic organizations (Du Bois, 1903).

Du Bois took a firm stand against White oppression of Blacks. He was very outspoken and supported the Black cause with all his heart. The same practical approach is reflected in an essay in which he said the he was “not against industrial training of the Black but it should not carry the racist agenda of limiting Blacks to always be in subservient position of vassal.”

Scholars such as E. Franklin Frazier, Horace Mann Bond, and Carter G. Woodson in the Black community were also disenchanted with the type of education available to Blacks. A major concern focused on the intent and motivations of philanthropic organizations. Theses scholars’ concerns are related to the quality of the curriculum; the teacher training and teaching; the social economic standing of and competition for access among national ethnic groups; and the relevance, and the predominance of race in all aspects of education. Woodson states in the Mis-Education of the Negro.

The education of the Negro then must be carefully directed lest the race may waste time trying to do the impossible. Lead the Negro to believe this and thus control his thinking. If you can thereby determine what he will think, you will not need to worry about what he will do. You will not have to tell him to go to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door he will have one cut for his own benefit. If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race. (Woodson, 1933, p. 192)

In reference to the role of teachers in the Black community, E. Franklin Frazier points out in his significant study the Black Bourgeoisie.

The first generation of educated Negroes, who were products of the missionary education, had a sense of responsibility toward the Negro masses and identified themselves with the struggles of the mass to overcome the handicaps of ignorance and poverty…they occupied a dignified position within the Negro community and were respected. (Frazier, 1957, p. 193)

The manner of education that was being offered for Blacks at the start of the century was an industrial or domestic core curriculum. There were a few exceptions of schools that incorporated a classical curriculum alongside the industrial education, but the basic items offered in the curriculum included reading, writing, arithmetic and a little history (Franklin, 1994). The educational system for Blacks did not provide for opportunities, economic nor social mobility, or even security (Bond, 1967). Perhaps this is why Bullock (1938) has argued that whether a Black school offered either form of education, the outcomes were nonetheless the same and all intended to “fit into a caste-like society as orchestrated by Whites.” This view is supported by Anderson (1988) who states that the reason the White philanthropists funded Black schools were so they could generate cheap labor later.

Segregation Following the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Decision of 1896

An analysis of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case can be presented by discussion of the case which it overhauled, thus setting a new legal precedent. This was the case of Plessy v. Fergusson (1896) which for decades had acted as the doctrine on which ‘equal but separate’ was defined. On June 7, 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy boarded a car of the Eastern Louisiana Railroad that was designed for Whites only and was arrested, as he was required to sit in the “colored” section. This was despite the fact that he was one-eighth Black and seven-eighths White. Under the Louisiana laws, he was still classified as a Black. He immediately filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of this law. Plessy argued that East Louisiana Railroad had denied him his rights under the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment acts of the United States Constitution and essentially stigmatized him. The judges ruled against him and he made an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, where again he was met by an unreceptive ear. The justices ruled that separation of races did not contradict the intent of the Thirteenth Amendment which had abolished slavery, nor the Fourteenth Amendment. In the decision of 7 to 1 in which Justice David Josiah did not participate, the courts ruled that the argument of stigmatization was in essence a fallacy and the consideration of feeling inferior was based on ones prejudice but not as entailed in the interpretation of the law (Blaustein & Ferguson, 1957).

Basically, the Justices’ arguments were that the law contended that the separation between the two races was essentially a matter of public policy. But while the argument presented was that the constitution was color blind, it can be discerned that the use of ‘separate but equal’ doctrine became the basis for the perpetuation of injustices for decades to come by giving legal authority to the enforcement of crude and segregating policies. In the court’s opinion, public facilities could be divided on the basis of color as long as they were of equal quality (Raffel, 2002; Thomas, 1997). As several authors contend (Dorsey, 1976; Marshall, 2002; Myrdal, 1944), the facilities for Blacks continued to be of inferior quality to those for Whites.

The passage of this judgment essentially meant that a clear distinction between Blacks and Whites was sanctioned by the federal government and a legal distinction based on color had been made between Blacks and Whites. This distinction would exclude Blacks from the mainstream of society which would impose tremendous negative effects upon them for many years. The way of life and access to public facilities such as the laws, the courts, schools and other such public utilities would henceforth favor White agendas (Franklin, 1994). As Franklin (1994) contends, the passage of this judgment gave Whites a leeway ‘to do everything else necessary to ensure White supremacy in education, politics, economic and social life’ (p. 261), and as Bullock (1967) asserts, the dominant White society acknowledged the freedom and right to discriminate against Blacks through statutes, ordinances and customs.

While the Plessy case does not explicitly address education, the Supreme Court indirectly gave its blessings to state-mandated school segregation (Blaustein & Ferguson, 1957). Southern state governments refused to provide Blacks with genuinely equal facilities and resources in the years after the Plessy decision. In the educational arena, there were glaring disparities both in the quality and conditions of supplies and buildings (Delaney, Delaney, & Hill Hearth, 1993), the length of the school year (Anderson, 1988). Teacher and administrator salaries and per pupil expenditures (Fultz, 1995) were much lower for Blacks. Essentially, this was extended to the curriculum that was designated for Blacks. As Bullock (1967) notes, the segregation became institutionalized even in the new system of education that was being shaped and formalized. This education took on the form that Whites wanted and was tailored to the special status of Blacks. This education was opposite that of the liberal arts form of education that had been established and set by the Freedmen’s Bureau (Franklin, 1994).

The above disparities were justified on economic grounds. In 1890 an amendment to the Mississippi Constitution required that the distribution of tax revenues between Blacks and Whites be based on revenues collected from the two sets of taxes (Bond, 1970). As it stood, the discretion for distribution would be left in the hands of the local board. Bond observed (1970) for the year 1907 that while a county had a per capita expenditure for the education of children of $5.65, the expenditure on a Black child was $3.50. Contrast this with the observation in the same year that while a county spent $80.00 per White child the expenditure stood at a mere $2.50 for the Black child (Bond, 1970).

The question of salaries and pay for White teachers as compared to Black teachers was another area where inequality based on race was vehemently advanced. For example, in 1908, the Alabama constitution was revised and this reduced both the salary and length of school terms for Blacks (Emerson, 2003). In an effort to conceal how funds and other resources were being distributed, reports from 1891 to 1909 on expenditure by race were no longer released (Bond, 1970). These were initiated again in 1909, and it could be discerned that the expenditure for Whites exceeded that of Blacks by over 500% (Pierce, Kincheloe, Moore, Drewry & Carmichael, 1955). These disparities in expenditure were more prevalent at the county levels. For example, in the counties of South Carolina, the state spent over $100 more per child for a White child’s education than it did for a Black child during the Byrnes equalization program of the 1950s and 60s (Bagwell, 1972).

Black education facilities were in a bad shape relative to those of Whites. The schools for Blacks were generally very poor physical structures and inferior to the facilities used by Whites. The buildings were ramshackle, there were not enough reading materials, there were too few well trained teachers and classes were mostly overcrowded. It has been documented, for example, that Black students were using books that had been discarded by Whites schools and that many of their uniforms were rejects. Bullock (1967) perhaps sums this best when he states ‘these schools were characterized by insufficient and inadequate materials, poorly trained teachers, short school term’ (p. 140). As aforementioned, much of the funding for these schools to purchase books, uniforms and other essential reading materials were from funds generated locally rather from the government coffers (Foster, 1997). Jones, states in Soldiers of light and love: Northern teachers and Georgia Blacks that these economics combined with the lack of concern for the education of Blacks by the school boards resulted in many disparities between Blacks and Whites for many decades to follow (Jones, 1928). For example, it was not until 1929 that high school diplomas were awarded to Black students in the state of South Carolina, and in 1940, about one-fourth of the counties in South Carolina still had no accredited high schools for Blacks (MacDaniels, 1984).

The schools for Blacks continued to receive far less funding as compared to Whites schools. This dual, race based school system continued to reinforce the philosophies and beliefs of the dominant power structure that they were inherently superior to their Black counterparts and it was no use imagining otherwise.

Higher Education Lawsuits

As Furlough (2000) contends, the determination to gain an education was the most striking feature of the Blacks’ struggle for equality. This belief is supported by Dickens (1939) who intones the fact that throughout the South, individuals and groups continued to agitate for improvements. The continued disparities set the stage for a series of petitions and numerous suits which were brought forth against these injustices. These suits had many beneficial outcomes especially at the higher institutions of learning. One of the bodies that played a pivotal role was the NAACP with the belief that a triumph against a single law school or medical school would have positive reverberations across the states. As Cottrol, Diamond and Ware (2003) assert, the NAACP adopted the strategy of focusing its efforts on statewide professional programs that would guarantee significant results, instead of having to fight a series of pitched battles with dozens of different school boards spread across the states.

Universities and other institutes of higher learning would be subject to legal suits advanced by Black students for either having denied admission or being subjected to other such practices based on the color of their skin. The first such case was filed in 1935, by Donald Murray against the University of Maryland for denial of admission (Pearson v. Murray, 1936). In this case, the Maryland Supreme Court had concluded that the university’s treatment violated the equal protection clause (Blaustein & Ferguson, 1957).

Another lawsuit was lodged in 1935 by Lloyd Gaines against the University of Missouri’s state funded law school which offered an out of state scholarship. An appeal of the case at the US Supreme Court (Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada) saw the Justices rule that transferring the plaintiff from the university was an infringement on his rights on provision of education by his own state (Cottrol, Diamond & Ware, 2003).

Other such law suits would follow culminating in the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education Discussed below are some of the highest profile cases in the institutes of higher learning.

Several other cases against segregation in the education between Blacks and Whites come forth such as the petition by Ada Sipuel, a Black who had clearly qualified to receive the professional legal education offered by the State. Sipuel applied for admission to the School of Law of the University of Oklahoma, the only institution for legal education supported and maintained by the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma but was denied admission on the basis of color. The Supreme Court ruled in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma that indeed she was entitled to education, but the construction of such facilities would only be mandated when there was high enough demand for the same (Kluger, 1976). The case was eventually heard by the Supreme Court. The decision of the court was that the state was obligated to provide the plaintiff with education. The case was, however, remanded back to the lower courts.

In order for the state of Oklahoma to be seen as providing educational institutions for both colors, an ad hoc law school (Langston) was swiftly built in two days (Teddlie & Freeman, 1996) but Sipuel refused to join the clearly inferior college.

Herman Sweatt applied for admission to the University of Texas law school but was denied admission on the grounds that the Texas State Constitution prohibited integrated education. At the time, no law school in Texas would admit Blacks. In that instance, the state court declared that the state of Texas would be establishing a law school for Blacks in six months. The status of this facility would not have stood an appeal for meeting equality in a court room. The proposed university. although affiliated with Prairie View University, would consist of two rented rooms, with a faculty of two part time lecturers and no library. Fearing that this would be deemed unequal in an appellate court, the state legislature hastily formalized the approval of $100,000 for the purpose of upgrading the institution in Houston, which created Texas Southern (Meyers, 1989).

Before the construction of this university would be completed, another facility was designated as a law school to be used by Blacks. This facility would have a library. The NAACP intervened and took up the matter and supported Sweatt, wanting to present the case for the inequality that was prevalent in the education sector and appealed the decision by the lower courts. Eventually, the case made its way to the Supreme Court (Sweat v. Painter).

The plaintiffs presented briefs filed by law professors and by the United States government (Blaustein & Ferguson, 1957). Attorneys generals from 11 southern states sought from the Justices a clear interpretation on the doctrine ‘separate but equal’. In the Justices’ ruling, the unanimous decision was that the separate law school as it stood failed to live up to the tenet of being an equal facility. In their opinion, the facility failed to meet the physical requirements in terms of material components such as books, number of faculties and the general physical designs. The justices even went further and considered qualities which could not be monetized such as reputation of the faculty, the prestige of the school and the ability of the law students to participate in the sort of realistic exchange of ideas that would prepare them to be good practicing lawyers (339 U.S. 629, 1950). This was a landmark ruling that set some precedents on the interpretation of the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ and set forth a series of other legal suits and petitions based on the segregations in the use of public facilities, including in the educational arena (1950).

Another case involved George McLaurin, McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents 1950, who applied for a doctorate in education at the University of Oklahoma but had was denied because he was Black. According to the Oklahoma university statutes, they could deny him admission as it was a misdemeanor to maintain or operate, teach or attend a school at which both Whites and Blacks were enrolled or taught. A state court ruled that McLaurin was entitled to education as held out in the doctrine that every citizen was entitled to education but no such college was presently in existence. Having learned from the Sweat v. Painter case discussed above, the state did not rush to hastily establish some facility that would not withstand a test of ‘equal but separate’ and so McLaurin was admitted to the university (Bartholomew, 1974). This however, came with a rider that his admission was made subject to ‘such rules and regulations as to segregation the President of the University shall consider substantially equal educational opportunities as are afforded to other persons seeking the same education in the Graduate College’ (339 U.S. 637, 1948). The university from this time forth imposed the decision that for all the time that McLaurin was at the university, he was required to sit in a designated ‘colored seat’ during the times he was attending his classes, use a specific table while in the library and eat in a segregated section of the cafeteria in the university. These laws were imposed upon McLaurin in an attempt to ensure that the university’s statutes were adhered to as far as was possible.

McLaurin contested this decision alleging that the action of the school authorities and the statutes upon which their action was based were unconstitutional and deprived him of the equal protection of the laws. The matter was eventually heard at the US Supreme Court. The justices were faced with deciding if a state may, after admitting a student to graduate instruction in its state university, afford him different treatment from other students solely because of his race. In a three judge decision, the justices ruled that the conditions under which McLaurin was required to receive his education deprived him of his personal and present right to the equal protection of the laws and therefore, ordered that internal segregation at the University of Oklahoma constituted unequal opportunity (Hill & Greenberg, 1955).

The above law suits, instigated by Blacks with the support of the NAACP, helped to underscore the need for equality in the true meaning of the word and not restricted to merely financial issues (Berman, 1966). It should be noted, however, that in all the above cases, the courts never made a stand regarding the legality or morality of segregation itself. This was until the landmark ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) when the courts ruled that separate facilities including educational institutions violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments as they were inherently unequal (Franklin & McNeil, 1995). The case and the rulings are discussed below.

Desegregation Following the 1954 Brown Supreme Court Decision

In 1950, the District of Columbia and 17 other states still allowed and embodied segregated schooling (Dentler, 1991). In the country as a whole, 11,173 school districts were segregated with 11.5 million Black students attending separate schools out of a total student population of 15 million Black school-aged children in the United States (Dentler, 1991). The segregation of Blacks was so ingrained in the society that some states even required the schools for the blind to be segregated (Kluger, 1976).

The NAACP had been steadfast in its fight against discrimination and inequality between Blacks and Whites. In the education arena, the board of lawyers for the NAACP had for a long time attempted to demonstrate that the schools for Blacks were inherently inferior to those for Whites, always stressing the ‘equal’ half of the separate but equal doctrine (Johnson, 1954). In order to generate the desired changes, it was believed that a full attack on this particular law had to be carried out. In 1950, NAACP attorney (and future justice of the Supreme Court) Thurgood Marshall promised an outright attack on the entire Jim Crow system in American schools, from the kindergarten to graduate levels (Kellar, 1999).

Although the lawyers were handling a multitude of suits on segregation of Blacks, they knew that if they could win one case that encompassed multiple states, they would be able to gain more ground than by handling many isolated cases. They wanted a case that would not ask for equal facilities, but one that would challenge the entire notion of ‘separate but equal,’ the existing law under the 1896 Plessy decision. This would also dispel the notion that Blacks were merely interested in enrolling their children in Whites’ schools as had been cited by the defendants in the case of Topeka. In actual fact all the elementary schools in the area had been built by the same architect at around the same time. The segregated schools were modern, brick structures identical to the White schools. (Brown Henderson, personal communication, 2003). The opportunity for this was presented in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ruling (1954). The case involved a resident of Topeka, Kansas but was a composite of cases from that state as well as four other states in which Black parents either sought to admit their children into White schools or to challenge the inadequacies of the segregated schools (Harris & Jackson, 1975).

The case of Briggs v. Elliot set the ball rolling and resulted in subsequent lawsuits against segregation which came to be known collectively as the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ruling (1954). The South Carolina case of Briggs v. Elliot started as a simple request to provide bus transportation to the segregated schools in Clarendon County. It also centered on efforts to raise teachers’ salaries and improve facilities in the Black schools. The case was initiated in 1949 (Ogletree, 2004). Other law suits were being filed in other states at this time. In one case, parents argued that overcrowding in the district’s Black schools constituted a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment (Kluger, 1976). In Prince Edward County, Virginia the Davis v. County School Board suit was lead by high school students fed up with inferior schools. And in New Castle County Delaware, the Gebhart v. Belton case protested inferior school conditions and a lack of transportation for the long commute (18 miles) to the segregated school.

The name Brown was inserted before Briggs in the combined case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ruling (1954) as the lawyers felt the need to include a northerner so as to give the case a bigger appeal and not restrict it to yet another southern case. At the state level, Kansas courts had upheld segregated schools in Topeka but did note that segregation itself “has a tendency to retard the education and mental development of Negro children” (cited in Lefler, 1957, p. 3). A total of 13 families participated as litigants in the Brown case. In the other states, the inequalities in schools were admitted and remediation promised in order to fix the problems. In Delaware, it was determined that the plaintiff could attend the local White schools until such improvements in their current schools were accomplished.

The above court decisions were, however, not what Thurgood Marshall and his team from the NAACP wanted. What they sought, as stipulated earlier was to challenge the constitutionality of the dual schools system and in effect the doctrine of ‘equal but separate’ (Kluger, 1976). The belief held at the time was that merely improving the conditions of the Black schools would not be enough (McDearman, 1989). To generate more law suits, the lawyers advised parents to enroll their children in neighboring schools with the knowledge that they would not be accepted. This in essence would set the ground for even more litigations (Brown Henderson & Rivers, 1997).

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeals originating from the other four states and the District of Columbia, and the justices invited the US attorney general and interested parties to file their briefs. The submitted briefs were so many that they formed a pile nearly two feet high (Kluger, 1976). These briefs contained information and evidence attacking the segregation practices and even widespread racism in the capitol. An expert witness in the state-level arguments of the Briggs case in South Carolina also testified in the case, providing evidence on the effect of color on small children using dolls. In the study, both Black and White children thought the black dolls were less pretty which basically demonstrated the damage that color based racism and segregation impacted negatively on the self esteem of Black children (Morgan, 1995). This was collaborated by more compelling evidence from other sociologists, educators, anthropologists and other expert witnesses, who all showed that segregation harmed young Black children.

The deliberations by the Justices took place two days later, and it was clear that the present case would be more far-reaching, as it would affect the entire education system in America (Lefler, 1957). It appeared, however, that the Justices were split on whether to uphold Plessy (Morgan, 1995). Five over-ridings questions covered the Issues that these Justices were meant to rule on. These were:

  1. Did any evidence exist showing what those who wrote the Fourteenth Amendment intended with respect to racial separation in public schools? (The Fourteenth Amendment says that “No state shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”)
  2. If those who proposed and ratified the amendment did not think it would apply immediately to public schools, did they think some Congress in the future might use the power of enforcement to make it apply to public schools, or did they understand that the judicial branch might apply it to the schools?
  3. Is it within judicial power to interpret the amendment to end segregation?
  4. And 5) dealt with questions of what the court should do if it decides that legally enforced separation violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Should it simply decree that minority children could choose which school to attend within some reasonable geographic area? Allow for a time of gradual adjustment? Give detailed decrees in each case? Appoint a special officer to make recommendations for each situation? Remand the cases to lower courts, and if so, how detailed should the instructions be (Kluger, 615-16; Hornsby, 17-18)?

The deliberations were postponed following the death of Chief Justice Vinson. Earl Warren, the Republican Governor of California was appointed the new chief justice and after the October re-arguments, deliberations were postponed to December, and after those closing arguments, the justices took five months to deliberate (Kluger, 1976). This was definitely a weighty matter as the decisions reached may have resulted in a complete overhaul of the contentious Amendments and affect the education systems in the entire country (Fife, 1997).

Chief Justice Warren reconvened the court again on May, 17, 1954, and delivered the judgment on the matter once and for all. In his opening commentary, the Justice stressed the importance of education in a democratic society, and then discussed the historical record on the intentions of those who wrote the Fourteenth Amendment as being “inconclusive and thus suggesting that the most powerful argument made by those defending segregated schools had been rejected. He added that the changed nature of education also rendered the historical record less relevant. What was largely private when the amendment was passed had now become public and tax supported and central to the development of good citizenship. In his landmark ruling, the justice stated that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal and therefore, a contradiction of doctrine of equity prescribed in the Fourteenth Amendment (Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 1954). With this verdict, the long awaited journey of equality in the education arena for Blacks was at last beckoning.

The ruling in the above case was certainly a big step forward in the liberation of Blacks from the oppressive segregation laws as encrypted in the doctrine of equal but separate. However, there were still a great many issues to be addressed and it certainly would take time before the gains from these amendments could trickle down. In an effort to hasten this, Justice Warren engineered what came to be known as the Brown 11, where the district level local courts were given the mandate on the implementation of desegregation laws. However, the failure to set a specific time frame within which to comply with the Brown ruling meant that some individual states could drag their feet on the matter. This behavior has been explained by several critical race theories.

Many people had miscalculated the response and the opposition that the passage of the Brown rule would have on Whites. For example, educators had not anticipated the strength of the opposition to desegregated schooling that would come from White communities around the nation (Morgan, 1995). As Gadsen (1996) records, the decade following the Brown ruling was one of little progress and much overt resistance by Whites. The disapproval to these rulings by Whites was manifested through open attacks on Blacks who attempted to desegregate previously all White institutions, setting up private White schools and using delaying tactics to postpone desegregation (Shujaa, 1996). Governors in Mississippi and Georgia even threatened to close entire schools rather than desegregate them (Dentler, 1991). In Prince Edward County, Virginia, this happened when the entire public system was closed down from 1956 to 1959. As a result, only private schools operated (Wolters, 1984). In other instances, Black students were completely barred from entering the previously White only schools, the most infamous case being in 1957, when the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus literally locked out nine Black students attempting to enter Central High School in Little Rock, this in defiance of a court order (Beals, 1994). The NAACP continued to champion the rights of Blacks and hasten the process of desegregation.

South Carolina Desegregation Efforts

The most striking change in the public education system of South Carolina took place immediately after the Brown decision. In general, most southern states sought to resist attempts by the federal government to end segregation within the states. Before and for some years after the 1954 Brown decision, South Carolina moved to preserve segregation by making schools for Black in the state equal to those of Whites. This was done following the Plessy ruling in hopes of subverting efforts to desegregate laid down by Brown. Under Governor James Byrnes, South Carolina employed a substantial spending program to build and improve school buildings that Blacks occupied. This was achieved through the passage of a three percent sales tax (McDaniel’s, 1984). The three percent tax enabled a twelfth grade to be added to high schools in the state, and numerous school districts in the state to be consolidated. Jones (1984) states that, these changes would impact the education of both White and Black students in the state. However, the segregated educational system in the state would remain intact. As a result, several Black schools and updated facilities were built to equalize the schools.

Many of these schools are thought to have been hastily built and to be of low quality construction. Dr. Joseph Watson stated:

When I was a Superintendent of schools in Clarendon County in the 1980s, I could clearly pick out these additions and schools. They had extremely large windows and long skinny corridors that were add-ons. When I became a superintendent in Claredon and Fairfield Counties, South Carolina, we had several of these buildings of low quality construction. We had to go back and fill in some of the large windows with brick to give better support to the structures. The hallways were long and skinny, which did not allow for students changing classes and people moving about comfortably. My assumption was that these measures were taken so politicians of that day could say they spent money on schools, but in actuality, the construction was long overdue and the product we got was not up to a quality standard. (Watson, personal communication 2008).

The impact on students of the Brown ruling was especially felt in the attempt to enforce the choice plans as approved by the courts. This took three forms, that is, pupil placement laws, Freedom of Choice plans, and incremental desegregation plans. These choice plans were implemented as follows; the students could be admitted to schools based on their color but could seek and be granted transfers if they so wished. The granting of these transfers was, however, based on perceived adaptability and the likelihood of adjusting to the curriculum being taught in the schools as adjudged by the school board which was mandated with the power to veto such admissions. This would also depend on the ability of the student to withstand possible backlash from the community, if coming from a different race. The major loophole with these choice plans were that they gave the admission boards all the power to decide on whom to admit in the school. This in essence meant that the decisions were inherently subjective as admission was pegged on very arbitrary qualifications (Messiah, 2000). The choice plan gave parents freedom to select the school of choice for their children at the beginning of the year. Theoretically, any child could attend whatever school they wished as this was open to all under the law. However, research has indicated that a great many applications placed by Black students to White schools were rejected, citing that their capacities were already full. In other instances, a few Blacks would be granted admission but later pressure was imposed on them to withdraw, citing nonconformity (Orfield, 1969). According to Dr. Joseph Watson, “many of these choice plans were hollow plans. The few Black students who actually attended all White schools were few in numbers. Few White children, if any, ever transferred to all Black schools. These plans in the eyes of the Black community were essentially seen as stalling tactics against desegregating.”

The end result was that very little integration took place, as demonstrated by the fact that only 6% of Black students were at White schools in 1965 (Bullock, 1970). However, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) continued to lean on the government to hasten these plans, resulting in the adoption of incremental desegregation plans which saw the integration of one grade level per year per district among White schools (Bullock, 1970).

Today, many scholars have been disappointed with the achievements that the Brown decision had on Blacks’ education (see Lyons & Chesley, 2004; Milner & Howard, 2004; Smith, 2005). These authors cite the increasing gaps in performance and achievement, the decrease in numbers of Black educators, and the fact that many locations in the nation’s schools are more segregated than ever before (Orfield 2001; Orfield & Eaton, 1997).

According to Franklin (1995), the original desegregation issue of equal educational opportunity has become a legacy in which all Black schools during segregation are thought to have lacked quality because they were under funded, under staffed and neglected in many ways by the political structure and society in which they were embedded. Desegregation was originally initiated as a means of establishing equal educational opportunities and resources for Blacks and for the removal of obstacles, both legal and social that separated Blacks and other people of color from Whites in Americans schools (Gadsden, 1996). However, these noble ideas were not being attained at the rate anticipated. Dempsey and Noblit (1993) comment that Black schools were carelessly stigmatized as undesirable education settings by political process that surrounded school desegregation. These stigmatizations resulted in the closure of many schools without due consideration. This stigmatization was owed in most cases to political, social and financial neglect.

Two general categories of literature cover the broad issue of the effects of the Brown decision on teaching. The first category covers the period immediately after the decision was passed and according to Futrell (2004), tends to be brief and espouses repercussions such as job losses, demotions and such other negative aspects that impacted the teachers. The accuracy of such literature has been adversely criticized (Futrell, 2004). The next category describes the impacts on a more personal level. In these cases the focus of the researchers was primarily on occurrences in segregated schools or in teachers’ life histories.

One immediate impact of the Brown decision was job losses for Black teachers, especially those that were poorly trained as they were deemed not meeting the requisite qualifications (Thompson, 1955). Another major loss would stem from the closure of small, local schools. Some teachers were also summarily dismissed as a backlash against desegregation, while others were demoted. As Thompson (1955) noted, it was expected from the onset that these desegregation initiatives would be more severely felt on the members of the Black teaching community. He noted, for example, of the number of Black teachers who had gained new positions in southern states. At the same time however, 19 Black schools had closed in West Virginia, leaving 15 teachers jobless. These were further reiterated by the fact that educators in Missouri and Kentucky were facing contract non-renewal. Generally, while educators in large communities would face protection from the law, those in small, local communities had less protection and were left exposed to highly arbitrarily and subjective decisions (Thompson, 1955).

In Oklahoma, 300 Black teachers were displaced due to desegregation and could not find employment elsewhere in the state. This was happening elsewhere as well; 60 educators in Kentucky were dismissed, 58 in West Virginia, and 20 each in the states of Texas and Missouri. This was more prominent in the small schools (Robinson, 1957). The teachers’ major fears then as documented by Doddy and Edwards (1955) were that they had to acquire more training and underpayment was likely.

Within one year following the decision, 21 of the 96 separate schools in Oklahoma had been discontinued (Perry & Hughes, 1956). As a consequence, 65 Black teachers lost their jobs. Another five Black teachers lost their jobs in Missouri, simply because their employment contracts were not renewed (Brantley, 1956). This was despite the fact that their qualifications were higher than those of their White counterparts. The teachers’ dismissal in this case and in just about all the others was retribution for the integration initiatives that were taking place. Valien (1956) has given insights into the predicaments that were facing Blacks by stating that the whole initiative was made worse by the fact that it was working unilaterally, meaning, while Black students were transferring into White schools, no Whites were leaving their schools to join Black schools. As a result, small schools in small communities were simply closing down. This similar pattern was being observed in North Carolina schools (Cecelski, 1994).

According to Charles Smith, varsity football coach at Hillside in Heath Springs, South Carolina, “some of us were able to keep our jobs teaching when we were transferred, but lost valuable supplemental jobs. At Hillside, I was the Head Football Coach, and Head Girls Basketball Coach. I had taken my teams to many regional finals, never paid, but lost these positions when the transfer happened” (personal communication, L. Smith 2009).

The many negative consequences to the teachers and the entire education system have been attributed to several factors. According to Ethridge, (1979), the Supreme Court statement that facilities were inherently unequal was interpreted to mean that Black schools were universally poor and as a consequence, White parents and decision makers dissociated from them. Many of these schools therefore,folded since nobody wanted to be associated with them. The other reason can be attributed to the Moberly case, where a total of 13 highly qualified Blacks were dismissed by a school board in 1954; yet 125 White educators were retained, though they couldn’t match the qualifications of Blacks. The Moberly case was to be used as a legal precedent for 10 years to come by those in disfavor of desegregation (Ethridge, 1979). Many Blacks were also disappointed by the failure of the 1966 desegregation guidelines to address policies for teachers’ retention and promotion. As it was, even the department of education ceased to keep records on Black faculty members dismissed following desegregation. It would appear that, in the fight for equal education rights for the Black students, teachers would be the major casualties (Futrell, 2004).

An estimate by Ethridge (1979) suggests that by 1970, a total of 31,584 job positions were lost in 17 states. This figure, though just an estimate has been quoted by several researchers (Hudson, 1994; Holmes, 1990; Hawkins, 1994). If these figures are true, then they would represent 47% loss in Black teaching jobs in 1954. The failure however, by the southern schools boards to keep records of teachers’ dismissals means that the exact number of teaching jobs lost by Blacks will never be ascertained for a fact. A great many positions were lost and the personal impact of the desegregation regulation on Black students has thus far been neglected.

Theoretical Framework

According to Jerome Morris, “the past 30 years has provided key scholarly publications on Black schooling. A paradigmatic shift to the historical and contemporary representation of Black schooling has been illuminated edifying aspects within predominantly Black schools, before and after Brown.” Works by Michelle Foster, Irvine and Irvine, Derrick Bell, Gloria Ladsen Billings, David Cecelski and George Noblit have all reframed the history that has been told. These authors have told a story counter to what is generally known about segregated Black schools in the South. Morris states:

The commonly held view of Black schooling as negligent and deficient in all respects did not end with the eradication of legalized segregation, nor is it reserved to the historical record on Black schooling. Contemporary views of Black schooling in many ways resemble the dominant view of Black education during legalized segregation—depictions filled with images of dilapidated buildings, secondhand textbooks, and inferior teaching. For example, based on my extensive and intensive sociological research in the urban South and Midwest, I described how two predominantly Black schools—one located in Atlanta, Georgia, and the other in St. Louis, Missouri—defy the disasters portrayed in the media about urban and contemporary predominantly Black schools. Over the past four decades, contrary to the pervasive contemporary view of urban schools as inept, the schools that I studied have been renowned for connecting with Black families and their nearby respective Black communities, and for educating the primarily low-income Black students who attended the schools Just as was the case in the historical scholarship on Black schooling, I noted how there exists a continual scholarly neglect of the multifarious nature of urban and predominantly Black schools, families, and communities. Although many urban and predominantly Black schools face a myriad of challenges when it comes to providing quality schooling for Black children today, some of these schools defy this pervasive pattern. We need to learn from these successful Black schools, rather than depict them as anomalies. (Morris, 2004)

This reframing or retelling is grounded in Critical Race Theory (CRT). Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a moving, innovative intellectual movement that puts race at the center of critical analysis (Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999, p. 1).

According to Delgado (1995, p. xiii), “Critical Race Theory sprang up in the mid-1970s with the early work of Derrick Bell (a Black) and Alan Freeman (a White), both of whom were deeply distressed over the slow pace of racial reform in the United States.” They argued that the traditional approaches of filing amicus briefs, protesting, marching, and appealing to the moral sensibilities of decent citizens produced smaller and fewer gains than in previous times. Before long they were being joined by other legal scholars who shared their frustration with traditional civil rights strategies. (Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999, p. 11)

Critical Race Theorists argue that for an event to be better understood, it must also be told from the views or perspective of members from racially oppressed groups that were affected. Too often, stories are told from a dominant cultural view. For instance, CRT starts with the belief that racism is “normal, not abnormal, in American society,” so interwoven in the fabric of American society that we hardly notice racism is present. (Delgado, 1995, p. xiv).

Derrick Bell stated in Faces at the bottom of the well (1992) that racism is “a permanent fixture of American life. Thus, the strategy becomes one of unmasking and exposing racism in its various permutations.” His scholarship (1980, 1987, 1992, 2000, and 2004) can also be placed within this counter narrative. Bell, a former NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer, is taunted as the ground breaking scholar of CRT. CRT in legal fields was a direct response to neoconservative and liberal ideologies that inundated the political and legal discourse in the post–civil rights era. Bell argued that desegregation measures ignored the fact that legalized segregation was about maintaining White control of education. In his more recently published book, Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform, Bell (2004) described how the passage of Brown was not exclusively about preventing discrimination against Blacks, alternatively it was connected to the nation’s Cold War concerns and its desire to reinforce its image as democratic state championing freedom, and as anticommunist (Klarman, 2002). Bell termed this an “interest convergence covenant,” a decision in which Black people’s “rights are recognized and protected when and only so long as policymakers perceive that such advances will further interests that are their [Whites’] primary concern” (p. 49).

Gloria Ladson-Billings has emphasized that, as far as legal research is concerned, Critical Race Theory (CRT) was developed as a means for understanding the relationship of the race with legal procedures.The same needs to be done in the field of education (Billings, 2001). In Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms, Billings gives some practical advice to those teachers who are working in environments with Black students. It is a real life story of eight teachers’ journey from teaching in multicultural setting without training and then teaching when they have enriched themselves after attending a Teach for Diversity class. (Billings, 2001) The reason that she cites for the unpreparedness of the teachers is that they don’t know to what social milieu these deprived students belong. The intention of writing the book according to the author “is to tell a richly textured story of what it means to become a teacher in a program devoted to preparing teachers for diverse classrooms.” Her experience is unique and rich because it is seen through the frame of CRT (Billings, 2001). This book fills the much needed gap of giving practical solutions to the problem of educational complexity of the Black community and could be disclosed from a CRT view. Because this work is grounded and framed in CRT, it provides for a unique story that has rarely been told from educators of color who have a perspective that is based on race as an oppressive measure.

Morris argues that such works as Billings’ tells a Counter Narrative. Applying CRT to deconstruct this American dominate view about educating Black children takes on an entirely different meaning from the Master Narrative view that has been told. This Master Narrative will be countered with different insights if told from CRT perspective because race is the central focus (Morris, 2008, p. 717).

A leading researcher on Black schooling today is Vanessa Siddle-Walker. Siddle-Walker describes the trials and tribulations faced by the educationist who opened institutions to cater to the needs of the underprivileged and deprived Blacks. In Siddle-Walker’s (1996) book, Their Highest Potential, she describes how community and social organizations work hand in hand to provide for the intellectual need for their community. Nobody can improve the lot of people unless they themselves try to build their destiny. She puts the debate in a real context by providing the specific example of the Caswell County Training School of North Carolina. The book has an insider’s view. Her story suggest that the positive contribution of the Black segregated schools looks out of sync when there are so many moans and cries about the perceived substandard education being provided in the segregated schools of Blacks (Walker, 1996).

Siddle-Walker accepts the fact that the segregated school for Blacks had far fewer resources like buildings and laboratories. The buildings were in dilapidated condition. There was a large gap between per pupil spending on buildings for the White and Black students. It stood at $217 for Whites and $70 for Blacks (Walker, 1996). Despite the lack in resources these segregated schools were run by dedicated teachers who took keen interest in the well-being of the students. They exercised discipline and didn’t allow a student to be idle.There was only one option and that was to study.

Russell Irvine and Jacqueline Jordan Irvine’s article “The Impact of the Desegregation Process on the Education of Black Students: Key Variables” states that “For Black children, desegregated schools and teaching staffs necessarily meant that teacher-pupil interaction relationships changed from an essential two-way interaction, i.e., pupil ability and class, toward a three-way interaction of pupil ability-social class-race interaction” (p. 413). They further state that three areas need to be analyzed in segregated schools- interpersonal, institutional, and community. Irvine and Irvine note that race played a significant role in the education of Black children at segregated schools. Irvine and Irvine (1983) point out how the many effects of desegregation were usually overlooked in efforts to assess the effectiveness of desegregation for Black children’s achievements.

Another counter narrative is that of Hyde County, North Carolina. David S. Cecelski in Along Freedom Road discussed how the Black community there opposed desegregation methods in favor of retaining their own schools. George Noblit and Van Dempsey (1996) echoed the same sentiment that Black children lost a portion of their community and culture when forced to attend the traditional all White school. (Noblit & Dempsey, 1996).

Counter Narratives

A research study by Faustine Jones on Dunbar High School of Little Rock, Arkansas highlighted the good and excellent aspects of Dunbar. Dunbar was an all Black segregated school that operated from 1930 to 1955. In her work A Traditional Model of Educational Excellence (1981), the segregated school is described as “one’s home away from home, where students were nurtured, taught, corrected, supported, encouraged, and punished (p. 2).” Faustine Jones surveyed Dunbar graduates and discovered that the school was a central factor in preparing them to become qualified, contributing adults.

Clark Montgomery, who is currently the Principal at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland.

The success of Douglass has been embodied in the sweat, blood and tears of the Black community. The community has always loved and cherished this school as a place that gave Black children an opportunity to dream. As principal, I feel the pride and commitment from former alumni, parents and students. Despite the things I hear from other colleagues from more affluent schools, I feel a strong commitment to Douglass’s traditions. Many of our graduates are now teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, nurses, engineers. We are proud of the tradition of Douglass and would not have it any other way. (Montgomery, 2009 personal communication).

Douglass was established 1883 as the Colored High and Training School and is the second oldest historically Black public high school in the United States. Some of its most prominent graduates are Thurgood Marshall, and Cab Calloway (Montgomery, 2009 personal communication).

In all these examples, race, culture, and oppression are at the center of the narrative. Critical Race Theory and the Counter Narrative was the preeminent conceptual framework employed in researching Emmett Scott High’s educators’ and students’ perspectives. CRT is suited to this study because the research frame essentially starts after the Brown v. Board ruling. The purpose of the research is to spark educational research where primary and secondary data are gathered to complement each other in full circle (Billig & Waterman, 2003, p. 74).

Some Critical Race Theorists offer that traditional education in America has provided minimal benefit to Blacks. They contend that because of the Eurocentric nature of American educational institutions, Black children have been adversely affected during the traditional schooling process. Consequently, the segregated schools with carefully trained teachers and a caring administration provide a world voice distinctly African-centered in relationship to extreme phenomena (Kunjufu, 1984).

This chapter has presented a comprehensive review of literature on the basis of which the research is anchored. The chapter has presented an overview of the history of the Black education in the South and a historical perspective on education during the slave era, reconstruction period and post reconstruction period. In all these instances, it has been demonstrated that inequality has been the norm in the contextual study area considered for research. Important information on the legal battles against segregation in the educational arena has been presented with particular emphasis paid to Brown v. Board of Education as the hallmark decision, considered to have laid the framework for desegregation in American education. The impacts of this ruling in the teaching ranks have been expounded upon in detail in an effort to demonstrate the impacts of legal mandates on teachers.

Equally important, this literature review has presented Critical Race Theory as a framework. The CRT frame states that dichotomy exists in the perception of Black schooling before, during and after the Brown decision. The push for equalization through better funding and better buildings for Black schools was presented and shows that these Black schools had a culture, community and legacy. Many of these schools were successful despite the argument that they lacked financial resources.

Research Methodology

In this chapter, I discuss why I elected to use a qualitative design for the study. I then describe how Critical Race Theory and Counter Narratives were instrumental in analyzing the narratives of the participants and how the participants came to be members of the study. I then relate what was learned as a result of conducting a pilot study and continue with a description of the data collection procedures used. The chapter concludes with details on the coding analysis used to construct various themes and how the analysis is supports the research findings. Finally, this chapter presents the purpose of the research, the research questions and the procedure that was used to ensure the trustworthiness of the data.

Design of the Study

A qualitative design was selected for this study because it best matched an emergent process for the guiding research question: What were the views and perceptions of Black teachers and students about Emmett Scott’s academic and social culture? A qualitative design also permitted me to collect comprehensive information connected to the subsequent research questions:

  1. What was the academic culture of Emmett Scott High School?
  2. What was the social culture of Emmett Scott High School?
  3. What were the faculty views on their role in the education of their students at Emmett Scott High School?
  4. What were students’ views and perception about their teachers and administrators at Emmett Scott High School?
  5. What are the narratives and stories associated with the desegregation period and the closing of Emmett Scott High School?

Critical Race Methodology

To tell this story, I sought answers to questions that shed light on how the academic and social experience is created and tried to give the participants a chance to express through voice their stories and experiences during this time. Critical Race Theory provided a framework and research approach. According to Billings, “Storytelling is a part of Critical Race Theory and because this particular story underscores an important point within the critical race theoretical paradigm race still matters.” Regardless of the scientific repudiation of race as a legitimate biological concept and attempts to marginalize race in much of the public discussion, race continues to be a powerful social construct (Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999, p. 8). Therefore, Critical Race Theory was applied in researching and analyzing Emmett Scott. The research questions in this case study can be answered using CRT by ensuring a broader context of understanding about the Black educational experience, its driving force and its institutions behind Emmett Scott’s success both within the four walls of the classroom and the community as well (Long, 2005, p. 29). Critical Race Theory (CTR) offers a strong conceptual framework upon which to assign meaning and practical application of my research findings. Key components of CRT that are relevant to this study include “the use of narratives to understand people’s experiences; exploration of the ways in which institutional structures, practices and policies perpetuates racial/ethnic educational inequalities; emphasis on the importance of viewing policies within a historical and cultural context and a focus on how race and racism are interwoven into the structures, practices and policies of colleges and universities” (Crenshaw et al., 1995; Ladison-Billings, 2000; Solorzano and Villalpando, 1998).

Counter Narratives and Critical Race Theory

Counter narratives form one of the most significant aspects of the Critical Race Theory along with criticizing interweaving race, sex, and class, dealing with structural determinism, and the like issues. Narratives are an essential part of the Critical Race Theory, (Ladson-Billings, 1998) because stories are able to provide the reader with the participants lived experience. Milner describes lived experience as a core of the narrative; such an experience turns narratives into real stories which “can be used as a foundational tool to connect teachers and students in order to move to more complex interactions and content.” (Milner, 2008) Using of voice or “naming your reality” serves as a link of substance and form in CRT, this is why CRT scholars frequently incorporate poetry, fiction, chronicles, stories and counter stories into their studies (Ladson-Billings, 1998). Counter narratives, in their turn, also help in understanding the reality, especially when they are told by the people of color. As stated by Milner 2008, “critical race theory’s advancement of the narrative and counter narrative centralizes race for the knower and for the known. In other words, race and racism are placed at the center of the narrative and counter-narrative.”

Counter narratives may serve as sources of knowledge because they help acknowledge the importance of personal and community experiences for people of color.. They illustrate that racial discrimination is present even in the contemporary society; such an illustration is not a mere assumption supported by hypothetical evidence, but is a fact which needs to be accepted. Introduction of counter narratives into this study dedicated to the Critical Race Theory provides space for researchers “to disrupt or interrupt persuasive discourses that may paint communities and people of color, particularly communities and people of color, in grim, dismal ways.” (Milner, 2008) This emphasizes the value of Emmett Scott High counter narratives which were obtained entirely from people of color.

The qualitative research paradigm explores a problem or describes a setting, a process, a social group, or a pattern of interaction. The goal of qualitative methodology is the same as quantitative methodology – “to identify clear and consistent patterns of phenomena using a systematic process.” The natural subjectivity of qualitative research, for which it is frequently criticized, is in fact its greatest strength (Davis, 1998, p. 5).

As a qualitative method, CRT fits as a subtext in the broad scope of qualitative research. Denzin and Lincoln (1994) stated in the Handbook of Qualitative Research that “qualitative research methods have become increasingly worthy modes of inquiry for research in education. However, qualitative research as a discourse tends to be difficult to define in a very clear manner.” Denzin and Lincoln further state the word qualitative implies an emphasis on process and meanings. It is not a measure in the same frame as quantitative in terms of frequency, intensity and amount. Qualitative researchers place emphasis on the close relationship between the researcher and what is studied and also the constructs of the environment, people, places that are being researched. Furthermore, Denizin and Lincoln state that qualitative research has an important role in understanding various disciplines of this world and how they balance other forms of knowledge. The core component of qualitative research methods can be described as ways to comprehend in-depth interviews of individuals and small groups, systematic field observation of their behavior and analysis of documentary data.

Five defining characteristics of qualitative studies are suggested by Bogdan and Biklen. First, “the research occurs in a natural setting because the setting or context of the research is important.” In this case, interviews were held at the locations specified by participants at home or at work; whichever setting they preferred. A second characteristic of qualitative studies is that they are descriptive. This research design allowed me to share the words of participants in detail. Third, “qualitative studies are concerned with process rather than with merely outcomes. Qualitative inquiry seeks to understand how individual respondents make sense of their situations. Fourth, qualitative researchers employ inductive reasoning. Rather than attempting to confirm or disconfirm a pre-established hypothesis, qualitative researchers are instead attentive to emerging ideas.” Finally, participants’ views and perspectives are considered legitimate and essential to the building of importance (2003).

According to Kathy Davis, many fallacies are associated with the quantitative paradigm. When studying human beings, is there any research that can be truly “value-free” and objective? Is it enough to study only “what is” without looking at the “how and why?” Davis maintains that quantitative researchers spend years manipulating numbers and gathering data that have little meaning. They disconnect themselves from their subjects, missing valuable information that cannot be observed through “objective” methods. She further states, “ I have yet to see a quantitative research study in any research journal that has been done well – one that has included enough information to be replicated, that has controlled for all the possible biases and extraneous variables that affect the results (Borg , Davis, 1998, p. 5)

Research Orientation

While conducting interviews across the region, I heard from teachers, community leaders, and my own parents that Emmett Scott had great basketball teams, bands, teachers, and students. In interviews it became clear to me that Emmett Scott High was treated as a second-class school. Teachers were paid less; students used secondhand books, and broken band instruments. For example, my mother who attended Emmett Scott from 1953 until 1958 spoke of how the books they received would be the discontinued books from Rock Hill High. When I heard family members discuss Emmett Scott not having certain material items, I was always puzzled when they would later reflect how great a place it was to attend. Therefore, I wished to assemble a more nearly complete narrative of this landmark of Black school in the Rock Hill area. Although I never had the chance to attend Emmett Scott I lived in the area for over 20 years.

Especially important for purposes of this study as an insider and outsider, my duty, as a researcher, is to share the culture of Emmett Scott High School – to present the story as the teachers and students perceived it. This study illuminates what happened at Emmett Scott during these years from 1965 to its closing in 1970 from the perspectives of the Black faculty and student body. Furthermore, this case study has complemented current research on the segregated educational experience of Black students and faculty.

The perceptions of the Black community in Rock Hill caused me concern about subjectivity as I began the study of Emmett Scott High School. Because I share a common heritage that dates back to our ancestral land, Africa, I am able to identify with certain culture attributes that an outsider might take for granted in the analysis. I have an “emic” point of view because of my insider status. With this in mind, the participants identified with me in a profound way. Since our history is defined by race, oppression, slavery, segregation and desegregation, I have an insider view to an extent. Obidah, in the Black community, calls this living with “blackness.” By virtue of this common heritage within the culture, I am able to conduct an insider’s view on this case study of Emmett Scott.

Critical historians W.E.B. Du Bois and E. Franklin Frazier stated that the pursuit of objectivity was important to social science and historical research, but that African-American scholars can carry out meticulous research without detaching themselves from the communities they are researching. Du Bois believed that Black scholars should not allow their personal interests to obscure their findings. However, Franklin (1963) and Du Bois (1944) do not dismiss objectivity as a goal for Black scholars struggling with this dialectical challenge in their research. Instead, they advocate an objectivity that recognizes Black scholars’ connection to the community. Franklin’s (1963) “objectivity” stresses a solid and consistent methodological approach backed up by sound argument and documentation (Alridge, 2003).

Patrica Collins sees her position as a Black woman as a strength, rather than a weakness, in her research. Collins’s recognition of her Black identity, as well as her other identities, adheres to the concept of “strong objectivity” and has prompted me to articulate more clearly my own identity as an African-American educational researcher working in Black communities (Alridge, 2003).

Similar to these scholars, I am situated in the study of Emmett Scott as an insider. I have embraced my subjectivity as a strong point in the research in order to gain insight on this phenomenon. To offset any bias in the interviews, I have collected data, conducted focus groups, and completed a triangulation by researching the historical record.

As I conducted interviews, gathered data and started to analyze data, I was highly concerned with the subjective nature that is an affliction of qualitative research. Barzun and Graff (1992) compared historical research to detective work. One must search for facts and clues and learn how to put them together. As a Black researcher conducting research on topic that is in my culture, how could I present a qualified valid, reliable and objective study? How would I address the issues of credibility, transferability, consistency and confirmability as describe by Lincoln and Guba. To be cautiously aware of my own position in the research was crucial to presenting valid answers to the research questions.


According to Lincoln and Guba, trustworthiness is established by using the following four components: credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. The components of trustworthiness are the equivalents of the concepts of internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity in quantitative designs (Lincoln & Guba, 1988). Barzun and Graff (1992) state that qualitative research involves searching for facts and putting clues together to prove and disprove. I was able to achieve trustworthiness through the process of triangulation that emerged while conducting the study. The three components of triangulation for this study are the interviews with the faculty; the interviews with the students, and documents, oral histories and cultural artifacts that were gathered and used to make the case. This model of triangulation is congruent with the emergent design of the study. To accomplish these goals, I employed the Guba and Lincoln (1992) concepts for establishing the components of trustworthiness.

Credibility was achieved through the checking of information shared by other members of the Emmett Scott High School community, local news articles, and board minutes. It was essential that a variety of methods be used to ensure that the data collected were, in fact, an accurate reflection of Emmett Scott. Peer debriefing was employed as a way to obtain unbiased feedback on my findings and interpretation of the interviews. As well, credibility was established with the consistency of the stories of the research participants themselves.

Transferability is achieved by interviewing 7 diverse persons and coding their responses into themes consistent with addressing the research questions. I established a detailed account of the history of the Emmett Scott High School during the desegregation period prior to its closing. I further examined issues of culture and academic characteristics of segregated schooling of Black students. This oral history and data collection established a case study by ensuring a broader context of understanding about the Black educational experience, its driving force and its institutions behind Emmett Scott’s success both within the four walls of the classroom and the community as well (Long, 2005, p. 29).

Dependability is achieved by examining existing literature on Critical Race Theory, effective schools and segregated schools. Dependability was further established during this research in the course of the process of triangulation. Dependability refers to the validity of the data and the realness of the descriptions provided by the participants. This study reflects the gradual compilation of data from a variety of sources. The collected data revealed the participants’ experiences. The data used to write this study entails the perceptions, views and experiences of the participants, and analysis of the documents researched.

Confirmability was established with an audit trail. A journal, a field notes file, and a log of activities were kept in computer files. I used NVivo 8 to record field notes, narratives, interviews, and literary sources for analysis. Field notes included both informal interaction with study participants and copied notes from artifacts. Photocopies of authentic documents and pictures have been analyzed using NVivo 8. Field notes included the researcher’s role as participant observer during the interviews at an Alumni Reunion event. Interviews of individuals and groups were conducted, recorded, and transcribed. Prior to the interview, each subject was provided with an Informed Consent Document (See Appendix ?).

Pilot Study

The pilot study assisted in a most significant way in helping to focus on participants whom I determined would add significantly to understanding Emmett Scott’s academic and social culture. Three interviews in the pilot study were invaluable in informing me about the era being studied, as well as providing a generalized perspective of cultural and academic themes that would emerge. These three interviews were also crucial in framing a set of questions to be asked throughout the inquiry. Therefore, I was able to probe for rich descriptions of the culture at Emmett Scott. For the pilot test interviews, I developed 10 questions that were given to participants before I arrived for the interviews. Overall, the pilot test interviews, informal discussions, and literature reviews were valuable for developing the data collection procedure (Yin, 1994, p. 69). These interviews were crucial in understanding how to establish trust, understanding the idiosyncrasies of Emmett Scott and how best to approach the remaining participants.

In the pilot study, the first subject of the interview was Representative Sam Foster. He will forever be known as the last principal of Emmett Scott High when it finally closed its doors in 1970. A second resource person for this study was Edna Ramseur. She was an English teacher at Emmett Scott High School during the time period under study. She transferred to the desegregated Rock Hill High School after Emmett Scott closed down. The third respondent is Betty Louis Richardson, was the last valedictorian of Emmett Scott High School. She had the option in her senior year to attend the integrated Rock Hill, but chose instead to graduate from Emmett Scott.

During the pilot phase, I used the Snow Balling method described by Patton. Patton stated that initial interviews can yield suggestions for more interviews from the original respondents. Thus the interview process that emerged was one that each participant suggested. I believed the Snow Ball sampling best fits this type of research due to the easy availability of the responses from the teachers, students and the administration. (Patton, 1990). One major advantage of the Snow Ball method on this research was that additional angles were developed from previous participants’ responses (Yore, 2003).

The order was important in my opinion because of the vast number of participants from which I could have chosen. I chose these three participates because, at first glance, they appeared significantly in many of the annuals, newspaper articles, and program agendas from Emmett Scott during this period. The Snow Balling started with these individuals and thus I was able to complete the remaining interviews from the names the first three suggested. During their interviews, Mr. Foster and Mrs. Ramsuer gave me names of teachers, and students who were still in the area and had been at Emmet Scott during the period of my investigation.

The Research Population

The participants for this case study were numerous and expanded as the research was conducted. After each interview, many participants were eager to offer names of other students and faculty who were with them at Emmett Scott. In a strange way, they wanted to point me in a direction to find a different perspective about Emmett Scott. As well, they wanted to validate certain things that they may have mentioned that took place so long ago. For example, Representative Foster told me to ask Mr. Parker about how much the community loved the band and how the band earned several awards and accolades from the White and Black communities. He stated “Everyone in the community came out to see the Rattler band for the Christmas parade–White and Black. Mr. Brooks had put together a real show stomping program, and that band could rival many college bands.” In an effort to validate his thoughts about the band being that good, he told me to ask Mr. Parker about the how well the band performed.

In many of the interviews I was surprised to note that the faculty and students had never truly discussed many of the issues in great detail or at length until I conducted the interviews. With the vast number of potential participants, my first task was to narrow the field to a workable number. The number of participants, including the three from the pilot study came to seven. Table 3.1 gives a detailed outline of the final list of participants’ names, status, gender, and years of attendance at Emmett Scott.

Table 3.1

Name Position Years at Emmett Scott Gender Race
Samuel R Foster Principal 1968-1970 male Black
Robert Parker Chemistry 1964-1970 male Black
Ann Reid Biology 1965-1970 female Black
Edna Ramseur English 1960-1970 female Black
Betty Richardson Student 1966-1970 female Black
Linda Ann McDuffy Student 1963-1968 female Black
Dock McDuffy Student 1962-1966 male Black

So that the stories could be told and the research questions answered, I established strict standards for my sample. The following criteria were selected to complete the additional interviews.

  1. The study was limited to persons, (students and teachers) who attended or worked at Emmett Scott High from 1965-1970.
  2. Student or faculty could not be members of the same household during their tenure at Emmett Scott. Therefore, only one narrative was analyzed from siblings who attended Emmett Scott.

The pilot study established the first three interviews. From there I was able to apply the criteria and complete the remaining interviews. With the large number of potential participants and yearbooks, I was able to compile a list of names of students and teachers who were still in the community. Some names were deleted because I either could not find them or they were deceased or in ill health.

Interviews and Data Collection

As stated by Glesne, researchers describe interviews as conversations with a purpose. An interview is a powerful way to collect large amounts of information without delay (Glesne and Peshkin, 1992). Two methods were used for obtaining information about the culture of schooling at Emmett Scott High School. Interviews and documents were the primary vehicles by which I approached this case study. I examined through interviews the social and academic culture as well ideas around the broad political currents and legislative mandates set by local, state and federal governments which led to the closing of the school.

However, Spradley (1980) noted, “none of the sources for making inferences about school culture are foolproof, but together they can lead to an adequate cultural description.” Collecting data on cultural artifacts and conversations with members of the culture were central in driving the discovery process. It was my hope that this qualitative case study of Emmett Scott High would reveal numerous realities of the school culture as perceived by faculty and students of the school as well community members.

I used a digital recorder to gather the interviews and collect field notes. I used a focused interview approach at the start of the interview. The final part of the interview was a set of broad open-ended questions to yield some initial thoughts about Emmett Scott’s social and academic culture. An online professional transcription service, recommended by a fellow graduate student, arranged the information in a useable format for analysis.

Document collection was important in bringing the case narrative into a broader context and triangulating the interview work. Moreover, the documents offset any bias or missing pieces in the interview narratives. I was able to obtain many of my artifacts such as newspaper articles, yearbooks, class awards, photos and trophies from Mr. Robert Parker, participant, who had collected yearbooks from his time at Emmett Scott from 1965 to 1970. Furthermore, I obtained program agendas from various community functions held at Emmett Scott, including a graduation ceremony program from 1967. Mr. Cain a former Emmett Scott psychology teacher who is now deceased, compiled many of the student yearbooks from 1957 until 1969. I gained access to documents such as graduation agendas, additional yearbooks, pictures of faculty events, and community programs. His wife, Dr. Ann Cain, provided access to his personal study where many Emmett Scott artifacts were found. As well, Emmett Scott yearbooks were located at Rock Hill High School, Northwestern High and the Emmett Scott Professional Development room located at the Innovation Learning Center.

The literature review was complemented by the Government Documents Section on the 5th floor at the Thomas Cooper Library. Compiled are NAACP records from 1954 to present. The reference librarian located, tagged and assisted me in creating a reference database to access the pertinent documents many of which are indexed for ease in locating information. The local newspaper in Rock Hill, the Evening Herald, now called the Herald is on microfiche at the South Carolinian Library and the Winthrop Dacus Library. Although they are not indexed, I was able to look for pertinent dates based on my field notes and interviews to triangulate additional data about specific topics. Interestingly enough, a section is directly dedicated to the Black community in the newspaper in the period from 1954 to 1968.

Ms. Ann Reid, a participant was most instrumental in helping me find historical information about early schooling in Rock Hill through the Clinton Library. Furthermore, she had yearbooks, event programs, and class pictures of Clinton, Friendship and Emmett Scott during segregation. Many Emmett Scott students attended Friendship and Clinton to further their education after graduating from Emmett Scott High School.

The Phoenix Academy has a conference room dedicated to Emmett Scott. It houses an artifacts library which is funded through Rock Hill School District Three and Emmett Scott Alumni. Although these items can not be removed from the room, I was a able to view pictures of the past principals, teachers, students leaders, and old band and athletic uniforms.

Data Analysis, Patterns and Themes

Data for this project was managed through various methods. After the seven interviews were conducted, transcribed, and checked for accuracy. I started the task of placing statements, narratives into NVivo 8. This software was used to sort and code all the interviews and cross reference narratives with the literature, field notes, government documents and artifacts. After sorting, I was able to complete coding of interviews and match documents in the literature to triangulate their validity by “indentifying, coding, and categorizing” some primary themes (Patton, 1990 p.381). The major themes extracted include 1) exemplary teachers, 2) curriculum and extracurricular activities, 3) community and parental support, and 4) leadership of the school principal. Several sub themes emerged as well such as school desegregation, alumni events, and school choice.

This qualitative study examines the meaning of events within the social context of the participants. The participants’ voices will be heard as they articulate the stories of their educational perceptions and experiences within the school setting in which they were situated. Their own voices will aid in shaping their stories and in making them more meaningful to the reader. The qualitative nature of the research allows the stories or accounts of the participants to be heard.

Findings and Analysis

For this study, I interviewed seven people who told me of their experiences at Emmett Scott High; discussing their lived experiences in this chapter will help to form a rich story about characteristics of the segregated schools captured in such themes as exemplary teachers, curriculum and extracurricular activities, community and parental support, and leadership of the school principal; all these themes are related to the life of Emmett School High in 1965-1970.

Participants’ Profiles

The participants included three students and four faculty members. For instance, Betty Richardson is one of the last valedictorians of Emmett Scott High School in 1970. After leaving Emmett Scott she studied at the North Carolina Central University graduating in 1973 with a BA in psychology. Currently, she is working in the sphere of employee relations as a crew relations administrator.

Elizabeth Ann Reid, another participant, is a former biology teacher at Emmett Scott High who also worked in various faculty positions at Clinton Junior College. Ann Reid grew up in Rock Hill and, due to segregation, was assigned to Emmet Scott, the school for Black children. She started teaching there in 1968. Edna Ramseur is a former English teacher who taught at Emmett Scott from 1960 to 1970. After leaving Benedict College in 1960, she began working at Emmett Scott as a teacher of English, British Literature, American Literature, and World Literature. Prior to entering college, she attended CA Johnson High School which also was an all Black segregated school.

Robert Parker was a chemistry teacher who started teaching at Emmett Scott in 1964 and taught there until the school closed in 1970. He graduated from Jefferson High School and then studied at South Carolina State College. After serving for two years in the army, he started teaching at Emmett Scott; although chemistry was his main subject, he also taught general science and mathematics.

Two other participants are Linda Ann McDuffy and Dock McDuffy who were students in the school in 1963-1968 and 1962-1966, respectively. Lastly, Samuel Foster was principal of Emmet Scott from 1968 to 1970. Foster started teaching in Chester; moved to Rock Hill in 1958, and was a teacher at Sunset Park School. Then he was offered a position of a principal at Fairfield Elementary School, but later he returned to Sunset Park as the principal. From there he was asked to be the principal at Emmett Scott for the last two years before the school was closed. These people agreed to share their stories of teaching and studying at the school under consideration and their lived experiences helped to reveal characteristics of segregated schools such as Emmet Scott High prior to the implementation of the Rock Hill District 3 Desegregation Plan.

Positionality and Experience

Taking care about each of the students seems to have been the basic principle of Emmett Scott’s teaching staff. The three former Emmett Scott students who were interviewed for this research presented several examples of teachers who had a special impact on the lives of students of Emmett Scott High in 1965-1970. Initially, a teacher is one of the most important people in any school, because he or she has a direct influence on the future life of every student.

According to Milner, (2008): successful teachers … envision life beyond their present situations; come to know themselves culturally, linguistically, gendered, racially, economically, and socially in relation to others; speak possibility and no destruction both inside and outside of the classroom regarding their students; care and demonstrate that care; and change their negative, deficit, counterproductive thinking in order to change their actions in the classrooms with students.

The interviewees have told that such teachers existed in the school under consideration, because those students who graduated from Emmett Scott remember these teachers and are grateful to them for their care and support. For instance, Betty Richardson notes: “The teachers … cared about you and the setting was small enough to where the teachers knew all the students individually, even if you didn’t take classes under the teachers, they’re teachers that knew you individually” (Interview with Richardson, 2008). Dr. Dock McDuffy shares his opinion, stating that Emmett Scott teachers “represented themselves to be upbeat, anxious … eager to involve themselves in our development:” his wife adds to this: “The teachers were supportive of you. I can’t ever remember a teacher making me feel like I couldn’t do anything I wanted to” (Interview with McDuffy, 2008).

It seems that the attitude of Emmett Scott teachers toward their jobs helped to create such an atmosphere at school. Most of them simply loved their jobs and were proud of teaching at this school. For instance, Robert Parker, the chemistry teacher says: “I was proud to be a teacher at Emmett Scott High, this was just extraordinary” (Interview with Parker, 2008). Belonging to the same nationality and sharing the same culture also played an important role for creating friendly atmosphere between teachers, students, and their parents: “I think one of the greatest of – the strength was that all faculty and the principal and all lived in the same community and went to the same churches and knew the parents of students on a personal basis” (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008). Quite supportive of her opinion is the former principal, Samuel Foster: “I know Emmett Scott was near and dear to a number of people in this community, and should have been just like my high school in Chester because that was all we had” (Interview with Foster, 2008). All of the participants, speaking about their positionality at Emmett Scott, did not have any negative associations with this institution, and even the students, for whom getting along with teachers is often quite difficult, gave only positive feedback about the school’s teaching staff.

Exemplary Teachers

Belonging to the same community played a decisive role for shaping great relations between students and teachers at Emmett Scott. As is often the case in such schools as Emmet Scott, “educators contend daily with external factors affecting what goes on inside of school” (Morris, 2003). According to the interviews, especially those given by former students of this school, teachers of Emmett Scott never stopped at simply giving the students information concerning their subjects; they taught them how to survive in the world which could, in those times, be so cruel, especially for Blacks students of the 1960s. During the interview, the participants named several teachers they remembered most vividly. Thus, Ms. McDuffy tells about Mr. Law who helped her to acquire self-confidence:

And I know, for myself, I’ve never been the most outgoing person – well, I think that I’m kinda quiet and, you know, not real out there like a lot of people. Though I participated in a lot of stuff; I did a lot of things. But when I was a senior, Mr. Law got me in a play, something that I would have never, ever, ever thought in the world that I would do. And I don’t know, for some reason it gave me a lot of confidence that he had confidence that I could do it, when I had no idea that I would stand in front of – and I’m still not a big stander in front of people now … But you know, it was just, he said, “You’re gonna do it.” And I – you know I felt like I couldn’t say, “No, I don’t want to do that” ‘cause he felt like I could do it. (Linda Faye McDuffy, 2008).

Mr. Law is an exemplary teacher for he has changed Ms. McDuffie’s attitude toward herself, as well as toward people who surrounded her. Certainly the experience she got while a senior student had a significant impact on her future life and her attitude toward it. She further said:

Mr. Law and all the teachers were always pushing us to do something we didn’t want to do at the time, but after you finished it, be it a class play, debate team, cheerleading, band, you felt that they really cared. I just thought that my teachers were the smartest people in the world, and so did my parents and all the students. My mother was a teacher at the elementary so I knew that teachers didn’t always know everything, but between Mr. Law, Mr. Cain, Posy, Bea Moore…there were so many that could get us to do things beyond what we saw in ourselves… just raising self-confidence in me as a person was extremely difficult. Mr. Law must have been a great psychologist if he managed to get me in that drama production (Linda Faye McDuffy, 2008).

Emmett Scott abounded with a number of other teachers who can also be called exemplary. The former students speak about their teachers with warmth in their voices, because they appreciate the way the teachers treated them, as well as the fact that they gave them much more than good knowledge in a specific subject. Betty Richardson emphasized several times how special the relationships between students and teachers were; she even gave the names of those educators who she especially appreciated:

I just remember a very personal relationship with the teachers – like close relationships, just like they come to your desk, they talk to you, and it was not so –you know how some are just distant relationships and you don’t feel like – they’re just doing their job, they don’t care? You just felt that those teachers cared – Mr. Parker., Mr. Posey, and Mr. Foster. Yeah, and Mr. Brown (Interview with Richardson, 2008).

Robert Parker, named among those Betty Richardson especially appreciated, also tells about several people he remembered. As a science teacher, he could not help but notice how caring other teachers were and how much they believed in teaching, “believed in what they were doing” (Interview with Parker, 2008). Among his extremely close colleagues he names John Posey, a math teacher, Ms. Boulware, Mr. Clark, and Ms. Mulwort. (Interview with Parker, 2008) These people, according to Mr. Parker, were “no nonsense” people who cared about their jobs and who were extremely devoted to them. Their primary mission was to teach their students and most of them kept to the same idea as Ann Reid who stated in the interview that “all children can learn … we provided an atmosphere and an opportunity. We had students from the city, country and deep in the country. Many[ students] had to pick cotton in the summers and would have to start late sometimes, way past Labor Day…that was quite typical for Black kids then, but we wanted them to get an education one day so they could own those farms and go off to school. Some kids just didn’t know how we were trying to change their lives so they could make it out of some of the improvised conditions, lucky some had no idea that they were improvised ” (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008).

Such an approach to teaching corresponds to what DuBois defined as reactive and proactive education. He paid special attention to pressing issues which people of African descent confronted and education has always been one of these issues. Ann Reid in her interview noted that teaching staff of Emmett Scott always believed that “education was the key to a successful life,” (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008) this is why dealing with the issue of education was vital for Black people. So, DuBois believed that grounding education in the sociopolitical conditions of the present reality of African American people would considerably improve their lives. He believed that education “was reactive in that it responded to the realities of the legacy of slavery, racism, discrimination, and poverty” and proactive, because it prepared African American children to the challenges they might face in future (Alridge, 1999). Samuel Foster says that Emmett Scott prepared the students for these challenges, letting them know that studying was the easiest part of their life:

Black youth had the opportunity to be class presidents, to be student council members that taught some aspects of leadership, and to assist those youngsters with gaining some of the kind of skills that they would need after they left the atmosphere. And so that was one of the major factors associated with the institution because it taught our children even though there were opportunities outside of the school setting that might be limited, you need to be prepared if you’re going to ultimately be able to take care of yourself and your family (Interview with Foster, 2008).

Foster, the last principal of Emmett Scott, was named as one of the exemplary teachers or staff by Betty Richardson. Foster has indeed done a gread deal for the welfare of school, its staff, and its students. Both staff and students respected him as a principal and a teacher, an exemplary teacher. He himself speaks of some members of his teaching staff with respect. He told the following story to show that parental involvement in the school life of the students meant a great deal to him. This story also shows that Foster was a caring and fair principal. As an example, he tells about a teacher working in his school, though he does not mention his name:

There was a teacher at Emmett Scott … who was rather tough but quite capable. And there was an incident once where a young man acted up in his class and he put him out and told him that he couldn’t come back. I happened not to have been there that day, and when I got back my assistant principal told me about it and I called him in after school … And I told him that I understand the mother came to check on him and to find out what the problem was, and the teacher’s response was fairly harsh, “… if you don’t do what I say do, then that’–“ And I say, “But you don’t have the option of putting him out. That has to be somebody else’s.” And he says to me, his principal, “Well I’m tellin’ you right now, he’s not coming back in my class.” I said, “That is not a decision for you to make. And if the decision is for him to come back, he comes back.” I say, “Because if we’ve got a parent who comes down here to find out what problems there are associated with their child, we owe them the response and the respect to work with them to try to solve a problem with a child.” (Interview with Foster, 2008).

This story like nothing else characterizes Samuel Foster as an exemplary teacher and leader, because it shows that he cares not only about the academic achievements of his students, but about their welfare outside the school as well.

Another thing that makes all the above mentioned teachers of Emmett Scott, along with those who were not mentioned, exemplary is that they aroused respect in their students without being too strict. Emmett Scott teachers treated the students as their own children, which made the students do their best not to disappoint them. The interviewed students confess that much of what they achieved at school they owe to the expectations their teachers had for them. For example, Betty Richardson says: “I think back then – and I don’t know that it’s different now, but back then you wanted to make people proud, so it was working towards making them proud and they had this expectation of not wanting to disappoint people” (Interview with Richardson, 2008). As a response to this, Ann Reid says that she often praised her students, because it gave them an idea that they met her expectations:

I like to put a lot of pictures up. I do a lot of verbal praise. I do some fussing too, but I think those are the things – when – if a person understands what you want from them – and you give them feedback when they succeed or when they need to make improvements, if there is follow-through and reward when they do well, they’ll try to live up to that expectation, I think. (Interview Reid, 2008).

From this it can be concluded that the teachers’ attitudes towards their students contributed into the future success of the students. Teaching staff of Emmet Scott High consisted of a number of exemplary teachers, such as Mr. Parker., Mr. Posey, Mr. Brown, Ms. Boulware, Mr. Cain, Ms. Mulwort, and many others who are still remembered by their students and the principal of the school Samuel Foster. These teachers may be regarded as exemplary, because they not only taught their students the subjects they were proficient in, but prepared them for an independent future life.

Curriculum and Extracurricular Activities

Emmett Scott High was founded in the climate of overt racism. However, regardless of economic and political oppression, Black education continued developing and by the 1930s “Black elementary schools were available in a system that resembled universal education” (Walker, 2000). Unlike White schools where high school education was better funded by the government, Black schools had to find ways to provide their children with the proper level of education. To this end, they were against accepting the common industrial curriculum and focused instead on classical training. They believed that such training “would provide access to the liberation they sought through education because it gave them access to “the best intellectual traditions” (Walker, 2000). According to the interviews, Emmet Scott teaching staff succeeded in creating such an atmosphere in the school so that the students never noticed the difference between their school and the White school; they knew that certain differences in curriculum and education generally existed, but they have never been preoccupied with this issue:

That was not a part of my community. I mean it wasn’t– I didn’t know any White kids. I didn’t know what they were doing. I didn’t know where they went to school. I mean I kind of knew where Rock Hill High School was. I knew where it was when traveling with my dad to the district office. It was right across the street down Main Street. We were so satisfied with where we was that we didn’t think we were missing out ‘cause we were doing so much. I mean, you know, you could be on the chorus – on the high school chorus, we were on the band. I mean we just did so many things. I don’t ever feel like I missed out on anything. (Interview with Dock McDuffy, 2008).

The academic curriculum of Emmett Scott was complemented by a carefully designed extracurricular activity program “which included clubs, all-school events, and special observances” (Walker, 2000). The list of extracurricular activities the Emmett Scott students were involved in was long; the students’ lives were saturated with events which did not let them think about any differences between them and the students of other institutions. Such a treatment on the part of teachers and the principal reinforced the students’ aspirations to grow up to “be somebody.” By this phrase the teachers and principals suggest that the students were not to feel bound by the segregated world in which they lived, but were to be made to believe that if they worked hard enough they “could be anything they wanted to be” (Walker, 2000). The focus of the curriculum and extracurricular activities shows that Emmett Scott teachers were trying to bring this message to their students. Edna Ramseur, for instance, taught the students not only African American but World Literature as well making them “recite the classics such as Byron, Tennyson, Keats Shelly, and Shakespeare … Hawthorne, Melville, Frost, but they also had to learn Langston Hughes, Hurston, and Wetly” (Interview with Ramseur, 2008). Elizabeth Ann Reid shared her memories about extracurricular activities which, as she remembers, were quite widespread at school:

Well, we had a full cadre of activities. There was the band. And we have a lot of pride in that band … Of course, we had basketball and football, and I don’t know – I guess we must have had wrestling … Softball, baseball. There were academic clubs like the French club, yearbook staff … there were Future Farmers of America and there were Girl Scouts and there was a club that people belonged to when they took business or typing or whatever … There were the junior class play and the senior class play, so students had a chance to participate in drama, and there were programs where the students were given an opportunity to display their work, their talents. There was the choir, of course, for singing and – we had a whole cadre of activities for students to participate in. (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008)

From the interview with Ann Reid I found out that extracurricular activities consumed the biggest part of the Emmett Scott students’ life. All these activities mentioned by her prove that the primary goal of the teachers was to educate their students in all the possible spheres and make their education engaging. Extracurricular activities united Emmett Scott students and contributed into their communication; it was easy for them to participate in those activities, because they knew each other. On the other hand, this participation helped them to become acquainted with people they did not know well. All this helped to shape the students and the teaching staff into one family possessing common culture and traditions. Moreover, it sustained academic and social culture at Emmett Scott High allowing the students to balance between their studies and activities.

Walker (2000), states that clubs as a part of extracurricular activities were used in segregated schools as a means to make students take part in culturally enriching activities. Since most of them supported the academic program, they covered certain disciplinary content areas: “First, students had opportunities to learn more about the content area, history, for instance. Second, students developed critical thinking skills in their work with projects and developed closer relationships with teachers who had similar interests” (Walker, 2000). Robert Parker echoed his fellow teachers’ sentiments that clubs were numerous at Emmett Scott: “There were clubs. There was a science club, and of course, I participated in the science club. There were … Really many clubs that related to different subject matter areas as well as student council… it seems like many of the students I taught were involved in something all the time cause they were always at the school after hours. They would go from here to there to make club meetings and sport activities I guess. They had a lot of fun just being together I suppose. Now we [faculty] had the Lit Five Social Club for us– that was for staff only. It was a social thing for the most part, but teachers would get together to play bid whisk, pinochle, — we had our fun too” (Interview with Parker, 2008). This can be one of the explanations for close relationships between students and teachers, as well as for the absence of evident conflicts at Emmett Scott.

Another benefit of extracurricular activities, especially in segregated schools, was that they served to make students proud of their school. One thing the students of this school were extremely proud of was their band which, as some of the interviewees noted, indeed united the community: “It felt like when the band – when Emmett Scott band went down the street, that was the end of the parade. Everybody just started following the band on down to the end of the parade” (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008). At the same time, as mentioned by Dock McDuffy and Linda Faye McDuffy, the band had educational purposes: “When you got to Emmett Scott, band became a – it might have been a class in elementary school… It was like you were learning music. I mean it was a class. It was a music instruction” (Interview with McDuffys, 2008). Dr. Dock McDuffy noted that each of the students were exposed to music and all of them played musical instruments. This shows that extracurricular activities and content areas were closely connected. Being a part of the band, the students had a chance to be involved in other activities, such as organizing school festivals:

And that’s where I initially learned to read music. And then we had the elementary band. I played trumpet in the elementary band and we would perform at Christmas time. You know we’d come down before Emmett Scott would come through … We’d have the May Day … It was called during May Day. We’d have a school festival. And we’d wrap the Maypole. We were not deprived. We weren’t missing anything. I think we were even a little more inspired by the things, and the curriculum, and the way they had things outlined for us. (Interview with Dock McDuffy, 2008)

As stated by Walker 2000, May Day and Christmas were the most popular holidays in segregated schools. These were all-schools events open to the community during which the students demonstrated their talents and participated in numerous contests. The Christmas Musical program was one of the central annual events in many schools: “Students dressed in costumes as angels and shepherds, the choirs usually sung, and the band performed. Elementary schools often describe operettas – dramatic performances by students in the evening for their parents and the community – as important year-end events” (Walker, 2000). Judging from the words of the McDuffys, Ann Reid, and Mr. Parker, such events indeed took place at Emmett Scott High, because the students were engaged in drama clubs, choirs, and music classes. Being involved in these activities helped the students to receive education both inside and outside the classroom. This shows that segregated schools “paralleled the extracurricular activities provided at White schools and embraced the professional belief prevalent at the time that activities offered opportunities for growth mentally, physically, socially and morally” (Walker, 2000). Parker believes that these activities and proper care on the part of the Emmett Scott teachers facilitated greatly the students’ learning process:

There were just so many activities that were available to everybody, and the teachers were concerned about the kids in the community as well, and of course, they always made sure the kids did what they needed to do. They [administration] were firm in my opinion on how they treated kids. They treated them fairly to my knowledge, and they were all concerned about the kids being successful and getting their education… (Interview with Parker, 2008).

Therefore, curriculum and extracurricular activities at Emmett Scott were interrelated. Numerous clubs, extra classes, and sports organizations united people of one culture and served to improve the relations of students and teachers. These activities kept students involved in community life and helped to educate them at the same time. The teachers did their utmost to provide their students with the same level of education White students got; according to the interviews, they succeeded in this desire and the Emmett Scott students never felt that they lacked something that other students had.

Community and Parental Support

Parental support is one of the key issues in education. This issue is even more important when it comes to education of African American children of 1960s and 1970s. Until 1960 African American schools survived only on those means which were provided by the students’ parents. From the research carried out by Walker, such schools as Emmett Scott owed the facilities they had to those parents whose children studied there from 1940s to 1960s:

From 1932 into the 1960s African Americans are recorded as buying pianos, playground equipment, books, science equipment, and other supply items for the schools. “Patrons,” as they were called, also donated grass seed, and other articles and items to beautify the school grounds or in other ways meet school needs. These items sometimes included schools buses, land and lumber for new school houses (Walker, 2000).

In the 1930s the “advocacy” role became the most widespread form of parental support; the “advocates” were “parents and community leaders who interposed themselves between the needs of the school community and the power of the White school board and made requests on behalf of the school” (Walker, 2000). However, closer to the 1960s the welfare of the African American schools improved and “advocates” changed into the members of parent communities. The matters they were preoccupied with in those times were school desegregation suits and demanding equal educational opportunities. People who were on the parent committee usually had opportunities to help schools financially; most of them were businessmen or ministers. Attendance at school activities became another form of parental involvement. Walker (2000) notes that in the 1960s school became a cultural center of the segregated community. Such a picture of parental involvement almost totally corresponds to what could be observed at Emmett Scott High in the 1960s.

The teachers, who were interviewed for this research, and the principal of Emmett Scott, stated that problems with the students’ parents was a rare occurrence for them. Teaching staff and students’ parents always got along well and all the conflicts which arose could be easily dealt with. For instance, Samuel Foster never had problems with home visits and communication with parents:

There were times that if I was having a little trouble with a youngster, I’d go by the house after school, talk with the parents about it… So it was that kind of interaction. And so the parents entrusted their children to the school because they knew that that was the avenue for them to go. (Interview with Foster, 2008)

Other teachers can hardly remember an occasion when they had conflicts either with the students or with their parents. Thus, Robert Parker states: “I just can’t remember any incidents where I had to deal with problems, with parents in terms of the education of those kids.” (Interview Parker, 2008) (Interview Parker, 2008). Edna Ramseur is quite supportive of this opinion; she also does not remember any serious conflicts with the students or their parents:

I never really had a big problem with students that a simple home visit or phone call couldn’t fix. In many cases, I would talk to parents at Sunday School at Mount Olive AME Zion to get things straight with students. I always got support from parents, the principal, Mr. Whitherspoon—he was great and Sam who lead us during the final years (Interview with Ramseur, 2008).

Certainly forms of parental involvement without the parents’ presence were a common case with the Emmett Scott students. African American teachers and parents knew each other well because they belonged to the same community. They taught their children respect for teachers and “provided a second disciplinary action at home if students disobeyed the teacher” (Walker, 2000). This served as support for school authority and helped to minimize conflicts at school.

Community support was no less useful for segregated schools, including Emmett Scott High. This school remained a community center, which was especially important for those who were a part of this community. Emmett Scott not only united people of the same culture; it helped people to keep down the anger they could have had for the rest of society, because it showed that their culture could survive even the oppression they were subjected to so often. This school served as a proof of the Black community’s achievements; they won the right of education for their children who could further fight for other rights and become equal with the rest of society. Emmett Scott helped the Black community understand how important and united it was in reaching the common goal. Edna Ramseur emphasized during the interview how much Emmett Scott meant to the community:

Any kind of social event in the community, in the Black community, was held there. It was open during the summer for all types of things, plays, dances, sports events, and concerts – just all kinds of stuff. Mr. Brown, chorus teacher and Mr. Brooks would always have something going on for students. Mr. Brooks had that band on the move from the start of the school year. The Christmas parade is where everyone got to see them come down main street last. (Interview with Ramseur, 2008)

Edna Ramseur recollects the names of a number of people who contributed into the welfare of school back then. She names Brother David as one of the people to whom the community owes much. Religion has always been important for the Black community this is why the main task of such people as Brother David was to sustain faith in people’s hearts. Apart from this, Brother David, as stated by Edna, was an active participant of the Young Men’s Club, the Recreation Center, and the Human Relations Council; by his activities he helped a number of people in the Black community. According to Ramseur, Brother David, being White and helping Black people was ostracized from the White community, but we appreciated the things he did for our community. You know, he was with all those boys from Friendship when they refused bail and had to stay in jail for a few months, Dub and Robert—our former students had to do hard labor at the York County Farm, and Brother David went down every day to make sure they got feed and were well taken care of. This community, Black and White, owes a lot to him and many of us will honor him soon. (Interview with Ramseur, 2008).

On April 26, 2009 Brother David was honored for more than 50 years of service in the Rock Hill community, including extensive involvement in civil rights during the 1960s, his aid to the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, his work at St. Mary Church, and with area organizations that serve the poor. Sen. Robert W. Hayes Jr. presented the Order of the Palmetto in the which was named “David Boone Day” in Rock Hill and York County (Knauss, 2008).

In addition to this, Elizabeth Ann Reid mentioned that community and parental involvement were interrelated. She calls Emmett Scott High “a gathering place” for the members of community, not only for the students who wanted an education:

As I have said already, we got a lot of parental support, primarily because the school was like the center of the community, outside of the church, and if your child was participating in something, you wanted to go to support it. It was a social outlet, a place where people gathered, not just for education, but to meet and greet others. It’s a gathering place … Many of the activities – the athletic events, the band. There were plays and all kinds of programs that members of the Black community participated in because that was the place to go (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008).

From this it becomes clear why closing of Emmett Scott High was so painful for the community. Desegregation was difficult for African American students because they were made to face reality without enough preparation. Even though they were taught how to survive in the real world, they surely never thought that they would meet so many obstacles on their way to education. Another aspect of desegregation was that it deprived the people who were united by Emmett Scott of the predominate symbol of their community; in which they had so much pride.

Desegregation seriously affected the future of the former Emmett Scott students. During the interview, Elizabeth Ann Reid suggested that, despite segregation, students still opted to enter Black colleges and universities: “I … think most of them went to historically Black colleges and universities at the time because some of the other schools were not open to us or we didn’t feel welcome there” (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008). This inability to get education those students deserved and had a right to shows that enactment of desegregation policy caused more harm to the African American community than people tend to think (Lynn & Parker, 2006). Black students who were transferred to White schools were likely to experience problems with education, according to a number of studies.

Nevertheless, the Black community accepted the closing of Emmett Scott High School with dignity. Edna Ramseur, for instance, says: “I was saddened that Emmett Scott closed, but knew that it would eventually happen one day” (Interview with Ramseur, 2008) Perhaps, Edna Ramseur, like a number of other people, believed that desegregation of schools in the South could have positive effects, because “between 1964 and 1970, this region witnessed the nation’s greatest increase in racial integration,” (Orfield, 2001) which further facilitated penetration of Black people into the White society. People who were involved in Emmett Scott’s activities were ready for these changes, although it was hard to accept that they and their children would never be a part of this school anymore. Edna Ramseur and Samuel Foster mentioned in their interviews that they were grateful that the school was not simply demolished, but turned into a community center. Thus, Foster says:

So now, from my vantage point, it would have been rather difficult maybe to integrate Emmett Scott because we knew that White students were not going to enter our community. And so I had no opposition to another high school that would achieve integration for the entire Rock Hill community, whereas there were some members of the Emmett Scott community, and with good reason, felt that their school was being taken away. And there’s some and a lot [of] legitimacy in that. But to ease a part of that burden, the city of Rock Hill bought that property. And left it turned it into the Emmett Scott Community Center to try to help lessen some of the impact of just closing down the whole facility and leaving that property down there to deteriorate. (Interview Foster, 2009)

This all testifies to the fact that both parents and community have always supported Emmett Scott High and were actively involved in the life of its every student. Desegregation, no matter how good it was intended to be for the Black people, has disrupted the life of this community and deprived the students of the joy and happiness they found there, condemning them to years of fighting for their rights.

Leadership of the School Principal

In segregated schools, principals not only played the role of the head of an educational establishment, but had to serve in a number of other capacities: “In his most visible role, the principal was the conduit through which the needs of the school were translated to the community. In this role, the principal motivated parents to provide resources for the school and alerted them to the needs of the school” (Walker, 2000). The principal was expected to provide leadership for local initiatives, to help the African American community, and to be a role model whom the teachers and students were to emulate. In addition to these obligations, the principal had to be an instructional leader of the school. He was absolutely autonomous and had a right to implement school programs in accordance with his own philosophy. It was therefore imperative that he be well-educated and experienced. According to Walker 2000, principals of segregated schools were “among the most educated African Americans in the community.” One of the principal’s most important roles was the role of a medium between Black and White communities; however, in this role his leadership was rather restricted, because he was allowed to consult with the White community, but never had enough power to make policy decisions. Performing these complex roles, African American principals made valuable contributions to the school communities; they were respected by other members of the community who often tried to settle problems themselves so as to not disappoint the principal (Walker, 2000).

One of the most difficult roles was the transition period in which the principal had to ease the integration issues. He expressed strong feeling about the desegregation process, staff development issues and transitions of existing staff. Overall, a common theme that Mr. Foster espoused was the view that desegregation would be better for Black students at Emmett Scott. The Emmett Scott community was at odds about how to achieve the desegregation process. A common concern was about the fate of Emmett Scott, its traditions, students and faculty. The Emmett Scott community had several conflicting views about the gains and losses surrounding desegregation and ultimately integration. The leaders in the Emmett Scott community thought that better resources, a chance for students to have the material goods that the White schools had, and the chance to compete would not necessarily outweigh having a school of its own. Mr. Foster remembers the time as being one of uncertainty for the entire community. He stated:

I had several questions about the deseg process and was purview to many issues that the average Black community member did not have access to. Even, other members in the education community did not understand all the issues at hand. We were giving up things many had fought to build for a concept or idea that we didn’t know was going to work. So many of us had heard about the resistance in other districts across the state that we thought it might be better to retain what we had built at Emmett Scott….. By no means am I claiming that everything was great. We had our share of problems to make Emmett Scott the place I thought it should be, but we had each other in the fight. By integrating, I knew we were going to be divided. The inevitable was coming near—that is desegregated. But the community seemed to be taken aback about the process-even well educated people who I would consider to be a part of the struggle. I am not sure if everyone pushing for desegregation knew everything that was at stake. (Foster, 2008)

During his interview Foster also recounted incidents he remembered from working at other schools and at Emmett Scott. Among these are Sunset Park School, Fairfield Elementary School, and Northwestern High School. Being a fair principal and a confident leader, Mr. Foster successfully provided his leadership to all these institutions:

I tried to be above board; I tried to be fair. I did not make decisions that I couldn’t support because I knew that if I made a decision that was questionable, that some of my constituents they was gonna run right downtown to get support. Never a decision that I made was overturned by the superintendent or the school board because I didn’t make decisions that I knew I couldn’t support. (Interview with Foster, 2008)

Mr. Foster was an educated person, though he never believed that giving the students proper academic background would be enough to prepare them for their future. One of his functions was offering advice to the teaching staff; but being a leader for him did not consist in this only. Judging from the stories told by Mr. Foster, he always tried to teach the students something that they could not learn from ordinary classes, something that they might use as a guide in their future life:

I can tell you that when I was a sixth grade teacher, for example, at Sunset Park, I used to tell kids that you may not be able to live over in the Country Club Estates, which was probably the most exclusive White community in Rock Hill at the time, you may not ever be able to buy a brand new car. But if you take what earnings you have and you buy a house that you can afford, and you buy a used automobile that provides transportation for you and your family, then ultimately you are really no less man than anybody else because you are making the best of and doing the best with what you’ve been afforded. (Interview with Foster, 2008)

Thus, the leadership of the school’s principal is not limited to managing processes. A principal should be a person to whom everybody turns for a piece of advice; what is important is to have the wisdom to act fairly and to give the advice which would help a person, rather than mislead him or her. In the interview, Samuel Foster could hardly recall any cases when he had problem with students at Emmett High. However, he remembered a number of incidents which took place during his tenure at Northwestern High, where he served as principal after Emmett Scott was closed. Despite his transition from the all Black Emmett Scott to Northwestern, Mr. Foster never changed the methods by means of which he displayed his leadership. He easily coped will all the problems and always had a reasonable explanation for his actions:

I tried to … help some of our youngsters … to make it through the transition and somebody was kind of looking at their aspect of it. And sometimes it did pay off… I worked real hard at trying to establish a viable atmosphere for all of the youngsters. I will tell you this because there were some of my Black students sometimes who might go home and tell their parents, the school was 70 percent White of course, “Well he just run over the Black kids out there. He don’t do nothing to the White people” and so forth and so on. And a mama come out and say … “Well he tells me that you don’t do anything to the White children, you just take advantage of the Black kids.” I said, “Now listen. Your child has a problem, and what we need to do is talk about the problem that your child has. Otherwise he may not be able to be here. So I’m not gonna sit here and talk to you about anybody else. We need to take care of his problem.” (Interview with Foster, 2008)

Becoming a principal of a desegregated school was a challenge for Mr. Foster. Dealing with students of different races who had conflicts on these grounds was rather complicated. At Emmett Scott, the students figuratively belonged to the same family where the members tried to help each other. The situation was different at Northwestern High School where Mr. Foster had to turn for help to the students’ parents to deal with their problems. Luckily, the parents were quite supportive of him and their influence on their children was effective:

When I was at Northwestern as principal, I was having some particular difficulty with a youngster there were times when I’d get in my car after five o’clock. And I’d go to that youngster’s house, and in front of his mama with him, and tell her that, “If you don’t help me with this boy, he’s not gonna be able to stay there. Now he needs to alter some of his conduct and what he’s doing, otherwise he gonna be in trouble.” (Interview with Foster, 2008)

Mr. Foster was able to settle conflicts like nobody else. Parents trusted him and it was not difficult for him to prove his case. He was concerned with every aspect of the students’ lives and did everything possible to make the students believe that they could come to his office for advice. He was always supportive and helpful, regardless the matter. This makes Mr. Foster a leader who tried to be equal with everybody else and who never showed his superiority over the teaching staff and the students. Such behavior evoked trust and respect in the students, either Black or White, who also tied to be helpful to the principal:

I was sitting right here [at home] one night when a White youngster called me around nine o’clock and said, “Mr. Foster we were,” he and his buddy, “we were out and we just decided to ride over by the school and Mr. Foster, somebody’s put a lot of bad writing all over the front of the glass and everything over there and so forth and so on.” So we went over, took my oldest son over, and we got it all straightened out. (Interview with Foster, 2008)

These stories reveal that Mr. Foster had all the qualities which a perfect leader should possess. He contributed to the welfare of every school where he worked. His ability to inspire people with confidence helped him to get along with the teaching staff, as well as with the students and their parents. The leadership of this principal united Emmett Scott High and was beneficial for all other schools in which he worked.

Chapter Summary

Chapter 4 of this dissertation deals with a number of issues related to social and academic culture at Emmett Scott High in the time from 1965 until 1970, when “segregated Black schools served as sites of resistance for those who were committed to racial uplift.” (Morris, 2004) Namely these years preceded the closing of this school which was like a home to the African American community. The chapter begins with the description of counter-narratives as one of the aspects to critical race theory showing the importance of including narratives in the study. The chapter discusses characteristics of desegregated schools through addressing four main themes: exemplary teachers, curriculum and extracurricular activities, community and parental support, and leadership of the school principal. These themes are applied to the life of Emmett Scott High.

The chapter is based on interviews with people who either studied or taught at the school in question. Betty Richardson, Edna Ramseur, Linda Ann McDuffy and Dock McDuffy, Elizabeth Ann Reid, Robert Parker, and the principal of the school, Samuel Foster all shared their memories about teaching and studying at Emmett Scott High. After presenting the description of an exemplary teacher, the chapter gives the names of those educators who were called exemplary by the participants of the research. It also contains the interviewees’ stories about numerous extracurricular activities which took place at school and their meaning for the African American community. The participants have also shared their memories about the involvement of parents and community in the life of school, which reaffirmed how much this school meant to the participants. Lastly, the leadership of the principal Foster was discussed. This part of the chapter was based on the interview with Samuel Foster himself who described pleasant and unpleasant moments of his work as a principal in such schools as Sunset Park School, Fairfield Elementary School, Northwestern High School, and Emmett Scott High.

The chapter also deals with the issue of desegregation and the interviewees’ ideas about this issue. The implementation of desegregation policy has affected the lives of each of the participants, along with the lives of other people who worked and studied at Emmett Scott. Some of them feel sorry that the school was closed and turned into the community center, though others, believe like Ladson-Billings, that “the attorneys, scholars, educators, and community members who worked tirelessly on behalf of school desegregation were working for the right cause.” (Ladson-Billing, 2004) Though closing the school and transferring students and the teaching staff was rather painful and complicated, it united the Black and White communities and resulted in relative equality between them.

Discussion of these four themes in connection with Emmett Scott High revealed how friendly and united this school was and how close the relationships between the principal, the teaching staff, and the students were. Though the process of desegregation was difficult for them all, it had a positive outcome for the African American community.


This case study examined and analyzed the social and academic culture of Emmett Scott High School which was closed in 1970 as a result of Rock Hill (SC) District 3 Desegregation Plan. The study presents a splendid description of the school’s academic and social life, as well it discusses the interactions between students and teachers, teachers and administration, the school and local government. The memories of the former principal, teaching staff, and students were collected and shaped into a rich story about Emmett Scott High’s life before the beginning of desegregation process. Their narratives contain a number of examples of what the life at Emmett Scott High was like before, during, and after the desegregation process. The participants’ stories help to illustrate the flow of educational process in the Emmett Scott community in Rock Hill, the problems which the school encountered, and the way these problems were addressed.

First, the introduction of the study outlines the main issues discussed further in the paper. This part of the study contains brief information about Emmett Scott High and the desegregation process which the school experienced in 1970. It presents the participants of the research, the interviewees whose narratives were used as the basis for this study. Using these narratives helped “to carry and situate the point,” (Brown, Denning, Groh, & Prusak, 2005, p.65) because the information was obtained directly from people who have experienced the events in question. As emphasized throughout the research, counter narratives are especially important for the studies exploring the lives of people of color, because only they are able to transfer very similar information about the members of the Black community and challenges they faced due to racial discrimination. This part of the study also presents some historical background regarding the functioning of Emmett Scott and the desegregation process in general. The period from 1965 until 1970 has been chosen for the research, because this period was the most challenging for every person in any way connected with this school.

Secondly, Critical Race Theory was chosen as the basic analysis tool and framework for the study. This theory helps to “understand issues of school climate and hierarchy, tracking, controversies over curriculum and history,” (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001, p.3) and is absolutely irreplaceable in the qualitative research methodology of the study dealing with this segregated community. A number of scholarly sources are cited to explain the essence of this theory and to apply it to the educational research. Moreover, CRT emphasizes the meaning of counter narrative used in the study. If told from the perspective of this theory, the narratives acquire different meanings. Storytelling (as well as counter storytelling) is a major theme in CRT writings; specifically through storytelling the naming of the reality takes place. The narratives transfer and preserve people’s culture; at this, they are able to simultaneously educate and entertain. This is why the use of narratives was crucial for this study; the application of the CRT in this research made it authentic and added to its originality. The CRT frame helped to define Emmett Scott in a positive uplifting light, despite the things that are traditionally said about Black schools during this time.

Third, the main purpose of the research was to present a thorough analysis of the narratives in order to give an answer to the guiding research question, that is, What were the views and perceptions of Black teachers and students about Emmett Scott’s academic and social culture? In the course of the analysis, the answers were also given to the subsequent research questions:

  1. What was the academic culture of Emmett Scott High School ?
  2. What was the social culture of Emmett Scott High School?
  3. What were the faculty views on their role in the education of their students at Emmett Scott High School?
  4. What were students’ views and perception about their teachers and administrators at Emmett Scott High school?
  5. What are the narratives and stories associated with the desegregation period and the closing of Emmett Scott High?

These research questions answered separately formed the answer to the guiding research question and incorporated the narratives into one story about social and academic culture of Emmett Scott High from 1965 to 1970.

Finally, the study examined not only the events connected with desegregation at Emmett Scott High, but disclosed the meaning of these events. It is not enough to simply tell that the school went through desegregation; this process involved much more than mere integration of Black and White schools.

Significance of the Findings

The findings of this study are without any doubt significant. The research in general deals with the subject which is always topical and which will always be interesting to scholars. Tracing educational changes is not difficult; what is more complicated is to trace the effect of these changes on people and their overall welfare (both financial and emotional). The findings of this study are based on the interviews of people who worked and studied at Emmett Scott High during 1965-1970.

First, the findings of this research raised the issues connected with racism and racial discrimination. The stories told by the participants presented racism from the perspective of people who suffered from it. As a rule, people do not know much about racism; they are aware of the fact that Black people were discriminated against at the beginning of the twentieth century and that the middle of that century saw the fight with discrimination. However, not many people are familiar with the details of discrimination, with the evil it brought to the society, and with the destructiveness it had. Though the study examines racial issues with respect to education, it does not stop at simply stating that discrimination hindered education. Remarkably, the research presents information on how the members of Black community tried to soften the effects of discrimination on their children. There was not a single interviewee who said that Emmett Scott High allowed racial issues to disrupt the process of education. On the contrary, the administration and the teaching staff did everything possible to make the students feel their importance. They were not deprived of anything and none of them envied the White students whose schools were financed and better equipped. They were satisfied with what they had for they all belonged to one big family, the Black community. The study has found that, regardless acute oppression, students at Emmett Scott were still proud of their community, of their culture, and of their ability to preserve their culture when it was the most vulnerable.

Second, the study represented the individuals’ perceptions of the educational change. This change was extremely important in the history of education. The legal case Brown et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas was decided in the Supreme Court more than 50 years ago and initiated “significant change in the American education system for Blacks” (Anderson & Byrne, 2004, xxiii) widely discussed by current scholars. The study in question not only informs about this case, but shows how it affected the lives of thousands of students and teachers who experienced desegregation. Their perceptions of this change testify to the fact that regardless the pain desegregation brought to Black people, they are still grateful for it. They knew that this change was inevitable; some of them waited for it with anticipation and others feared it. Nevertheless, as stated by all the participants of the research, this change was beneficial for the Black community, because it made them equal with White students in terms of career opportunities.

Third, this study presented the views of Black teachers regarding working in segregated and desegregated schools, and their attitudes toward the desegregation plans. Quite helpful here was Sam Foster, the last principal of Emmett Scott High. He believes that segregated schools, despite the desire of the teaching staff and administration to make them as good as possible, still made Black and White students unequal: “I never felt that we had the resources, the power to make things absolutely equal in those segregated schools. So we have got to alter this course to give us an opportunity to be involved wherever they are” (Interview with Foster, 2008). The teachers felt certain anxiety when they started working at the former White schools because they were still afraid of discrimination: “I thought there was gonna be violence … I thought there was gonna be fights and that people would be hurt and that there would be hate crimes committed. Thankfully, we didn’t have a lot of that” (Interview with Reid, 2008). There was some fear on the part of White teachers who had to teach Black students. Mr. Foster, for instance, has stated that there were some teachers … that were afraid of [Black] kids ‘cause they were a little bit hostile” (Interview with Foster, 2008). Though the conflicts between Black and White students did take place, former Emmett Scott teachers admit that on the whole the desegregation process went smoothly in Rock Hill and was more of benefit rather than harm, especially to the Black community. The overall feelings from the teachers and students was that schools would one day be desegregated and ultimately it would offer a great number of opportunities to Black students who could now obtain the high-quality education which they deserved. Therefore, the significance of the findings of this study with respect to this issue consists in its proving that school desegregation shaped positive racial attitudes and fostered interracial friendships (Rossel, Armor, & Walberg, 2002, p.6) between Black and White students, the teaching staff, and the communities in general.

Finally, the findings of this study testify to the fact that fighting with racism is not senseless. Racial discrimination has always been difficult to eradicate from society, because it takes more than mere desire to do this. There will always be people who will stand for segregation, who will continue discriminating against minorities, and who will pursue that course. Prior to desegregation, it seems that dealing with racism was abandoned by the government and society because they tired from vain endeavors to make Blacks and Whites equal. Introducing anti-discrimination laws and policies did not bring results and even Black people’s involvement with governmental affairs did not give them right to make decisions. They could participate in discussions and were members of political parties, but could not influence the adoption of laws or passing of the bills. However, this study shows that desegregation became a turning point of fighting with racism, because it, unlike a number of other governmental policies, has united the members of Black and White communities. The biggest advantage of desegregation is that it facilitated communication and prevented domination “either in or out of class” (Yinger, 1997, p.234). Desegregation united students not only within the walls of schools and colleges but made it possible for them to interact outside the schools. It was the only effective means of eradicating racial discrimination from the society which, though it did not give positive results at once, was still beneficial for both the communities. Thus, the study has found that, but for the desegregation plan of 1970, Emmett Scott High would have still remained a segregated school and its students would not have gone through all the sufferings which they encountered when studying at White schools and colleges. However, without this plan, the fight with racial discrimination would have never begun and Black people would still have fewer educational and career opportunities than the White students.

Addressing the Research Questions

As mentioned above, the guiding research question of this study was, What were the views and perceptions of Black teachers and students about Emmett Scott’s academic and social culture? This research question was intended to give a fuller understanding of the education experience of the separate Black community which existed in rural South Carolina and was accomplished through interviews with people who belonged to this community. In the course of the research there arose five additional questions the answers to which shaped a general idea about social and academic culture of the school in question, as well as students’ and teachers’ perceptions of them.

What was the academic culture of Emmett Scott High School?

The academic culture of Emmett Scott High could be defined through tracing relations between students and teachers, because these relations can favor or hinder the process of education. The participants of the study shared their opinions regarding the ways the students were treated at Emmett Scott. Former Emmett Scott students including Linda Ann McDuffy, Dock McDuffy, and Betty Richardson stated that it was the educators’ attitudes that fostered the students’ interest in their subjects. Teachers may be said to have performed the roles of parents for each of the students, resulting in the students’ better academic performance. Students were eager to demonstrate their best abilities in order not to disappoint their educators. Conflicts between the students and the teaching staff were so rare that most of the interviewees could not recollect a single case. The interviews have shown that the school had a number of academic clubs, such as a French Club and a Science Club. The instructors encouraged their students and demonstrated that education was of utmost importance to them. They taught the students far more than the curriculum offered; they taught them wisdom and helped prepare them for independent life.

What was the Social Culture of Emmett Scott High School?

Socially, Emmett Scott High was even richer than academically. According to the interview with Ann Reid (2008), the school’s strength resulted from the students and teachers belonging to the same community, also, parents and teachers knew each other well because they regularly met beyond the walls of the school and even attended the same churches. Social events at the school gathered the citizens in the Black Community. Numerous annual festivals organized by Emmett Scott teachers and students were a holiday for all members of the community. The school housed singing and speaking events for which the community gathered in the school auditorium to listen to quartets and speakers. In addition, theater and cultural programs were housed in the school. These programs united the community and helped them share and preserve their culture. The school was a “social outlet” where “people gathered, not just for education, but to meet and greet others” (Interview with Ann Reid, 2008). Thus, Emmett Scott united the community living in rural South Carolina and can be regarded as a symbol of this community and its social culture.

What were the Faculty Views on Their Role in the Education of Their Students at Emmett Scott High School?

The faculty played a primary role in educating the Emmett Scott students and they were perfectly aware of it. Because they knew how difficult it would be for Black students to further their education, every faculty member tried to give as much as possible to the students. For example, Mr. Parker, who taught chemistry (and general science occasionally) believes that his role as a teacher was not only to give the students a defined amount of scientific knowledge, but to “to teach them to be decent human beings … Decent Americans” (Interview with Parker, 2008). The other educators shared similar beliefs.. For example, Elizabeth Ann Reid kept to an idea that all students could learn if provided with opportunities. For this reason, she saw her main role as providing these opportunities to her students. Each of the Emmett Scott teachers had his or her own approach to teaching, but all were, without a doubt, successful. The educators demonstrated their respect for the students and thus earned respect for themselves. Students trusted the teaching staff and knew that they could rely on them: “We felt that they were wise and knew what was best for us and what was best for our students, our children, and we had a lot of confidence in what they said” (Interview with Reid, 2008). The teachers, in their turn, did everything possible to preserve this trust.

What Were Students’ Views and Perception about Their Teachers and Administrators at Emmett Scott High School?

Emmett Scott students knew their teachers supported them and encouraged their academic achievements. In interviews, former students of the school shared a number of stories about their relations with educators and agreed that there were exemplary teachers at Emmett Scott. The study has discovered that some of these teachers were Mr. Law, Mr. Cain, Mr. Parker, Mr. Posey, Mr. Brown, Ms. Boulware, Ms. Mulwort, Mr. Clark, and Mr. Foster. These names were recollected by former Emmett Scott students and teachers who told stories about them. The teachers were perceived as authorities by the students; some of them changed the students’ attitudes towards their lives and made them more self-confident and independent. There was hardly a student who did not like and respect Samuel Foster. In the students’ ranks he was always spoken of as a great leader who was wise and fair and who could always give a good advice, regardless of the problem. The students saw the educators as “upbeat, anxious … eager to involve themselves in [the students’] development” (Interview with McDuffys, 2008). This contributed to the students’ perception of them as of authorities.

What are the Narratives and Stories Associated with the Desegregation Period and the Closing of Emmett Scott High?

Three students and four faculty members were interviewed for this study; each shared his or her memories about the functioning of Emmett Scott High, its facing the desegregation period, and the closing of the school which was so dear to the community. Most of the interviewees agreed that, despite all the unpleasant moments which this process entailed, none of the teachers lost their jobs or “were placed out of their field’s specialty” (Interview with Parker, 2008). The participants of the research stated that most members of their community took desegregation for granted and, though some conflicts did take place, in “a year or two things settled down and … everybody became accustomed to what had occurred” (Interview with Parker, 2008). Sam Foster’s interview abounds with stories associated with desegregation and, in particular, his becoming the principal of Northwestern High. Finally, all the participants were “saddened that Emmett Scott closed, but knew that it would eventually happen one day” (Interview with Ramseur, 2008). It was something the community members desired, something they thought they and their children have deserved.

Personal Benefits and the Ways I Can Use This Study as an Educator

The information presented in this study is extremely useful for me as an educator. Apart from improving my skills as a researcher, this study enabled me to use the acquired data further in my work. I reviewed a number of sources and discoverd details about the desegregation process which I might never have known, otherwise. This study helped me to meet with people who experienced desegregation themselves and who could tell about it better than any of the existing books on the history of education. After conducting research on the topic of desegregation I had the opportunity to compare and contrast the findings of other scholars, as and to determine if their findings are correct. I can now discuss the process of desegregation with people who are also interested in this issue; moreover, I can shape my own ideas regarding the influence of this process on the education of Black people and their future lives. However, most remarkable is the fact that my knowledge concerning this issue is now so rich that I can share it with other people. Thus, as an educator, I can use this study to explain to students the notion of desegregation, to tell the true story about Emmett Scott High and the effects of desegregation on its students and teachers, and to illustrate the effect of racial discrimination on the quality and accessibility of education.

First, this study allows me as an educator to share my knowledge about desegregation with my students. What is even more important, I can give a perfect example of a school that went through this process, of a school whose teachers and students I interviewed, of a school which allowed me to come back to the past to acquire this knowledge. Desegregation seems to be a controversial issue at first glance; comprehending how a process which brought so much pain and suffering to people can be regarded as beneficial for both Black and White communities is difficult. Most people know about desegregation because they read about it somewhere, but do not have the least idea how much this process involves. They think that it was beneficial because it made high quality education easily accessible to Black students. However, only a few people know how difficult it was for those Blacks who started visiting desegregated schools and colleges to assimilate into a new community and how unfairly they were treated by other students and sometimes even teachers. Some Black students literally had to fight for their right to study at desegregated schools with even teachers having certain prejudices against them. For instance, Samuel Foster told about an occasion when a fight took place at the desegregated school where he was a principal. He and a woman from his teaching staff had to go to court, because “there was a fight in her classroom between a Black girl and a White girl and a Black guy went to try to break them up and her report said that there was two Black kids fighting this White girl” (Interview with Foster, 2008). This is one of the examples he sites of unfair treatment of Black students after desegregation. Even in the modern times often “teachers do not understand Black children’s values and beliefs … [and] the children face cultural conflicts in their relations with teachers” (Ogbu, 2003). Fortunately, modern society tries to fight racism by supporting desegregation rather than rejecting it. Modern educational establishments offer multicultural education pursuing such goals as “reducing the achievement gap, achieving equity in access to high-quality education, reducing racism and other forms of bigotry, and fostering interracial and intercultural understanding and respect” (Lisi, Rios, & National Association for Multicultural Education, 2004, p.41). Thus, as a result of this study, I will be able to share this and a great amount of other information with my students.

Second, this study made me one of only a few people who know the story of Emmett Scott High School in detail. Now I know information which other people cannot know, since Internet websites and scholarly books give only general information about Emmett Scott High without going deeper into its life. Through the interviews which I conducted for the study, I know details from Emmett Scott’s life of which only a person who worked or studied there is aware. My interviewees were not just people from whom I needed certain data; they were pleasant contributors with whom I could discuss questions regarding their school and the desegregation process. I learned from them facts which are missing from the books and I read such as how much the school meant to them. Now I know that, despite their belief that desegregation was beneficial overall for Black community, some part of their souls desired to stay at the school which was so dear to their hearts. However, something had to be sacrificed on the way to educational equality. Listening to all their stories made me inexpressibly proud of the whole Black community for these people had strengths to fight to the end, to fight until they got what they deserved. Knowing so much about Emmett Scott High and people who studied and taught there will allow me to share my knowledge with my students and other people who are interested in the influence of desegregation process not only on the education of Black people, but on each of their lives, as well.

Finally, this study not only enriched my knowledge about desegregation process, but enabled me to illustrate the effects of racial discrimination on education to my students. Clearly, Black schools were insufficiently financed in the 1950s. Scholarly sources abound with descriptions of how bad the condition of auditoriums was and how poor school resources were. The interviews with former Emmett Scott High students and teachers helped to illustrate that regardless poor financing, Black children still wanted to study. They “were working with books that had been passed down from other schools” (Interview with McDuffys, 2008); moreover, they were passed down from the schools where White children studied. This increased the gap between Black and White students and could have evoked even more intense dislike towards White people in the Black students. However, they rarely cared about it for they had at least some opportunity to learn. In addition, their teachers and principals did everything possible to soften the inequality which existed then. This is another reason for my pride in the Black leaders of the day. The education which they received in segregated Black schools was not of bad quality, but even the best students were not academically prepared enough after the desegregation process began. This is the most obvious sign of how racial discrimination affected Black education. Additionally, even though the Emmett Scott High students considered their school to be good socially and academically, they knew that an overarching battle had to be fought to end segregation. Most of those who were transferred into the former White schools after desegregation were convinced of this, but they never regretted the outcome of their fight with inequality. Thus, this study made me more erudite as an educator regarding the issue of racial discrimination; it allowed me to trace how the shortcomings of Black education gradually increased Black people’s desire to fight for equality.

Recommendations for Further Research

The primary purpose of this study was to explore the academic and social culture of Emmett Scott High School. Apart from achieving this purpose, the study dealt with a number of other issues, such as the desegregation process and racial discrimination. These two are extremely vast topics and may be researched further. Researchers who would like to explore these topics in future should not be stopped by the fact that hundreds of other people have dedicated their studies to discrimination and desegregation. These topics need fresh information; they need the analysis of new data, comparison of the previous studies with the existing ones, and contrasting the opportunities available to Black people today with those years earlier. These studies should go further than stating whether desegregation was good or bad for the Black community, claiming that racial discrimination is pointless, basing on hatred and leads to nowhere. I believe that studies such as this one, dedicated to Emmett Scott High, are the best way to interest people in the subject. Absent of unnecessary calculations and vague or incomprehensible words, it simply narrates about Emmett Scott High leaving a number of issues open for further discussion. This study can serve as a rich basis for further research.

First, deeper research can be done in the effect of racial discrimination on Black education. Such a study should not rely on the already existing data. Instead, the researcher can carry out an investigation similar to the one presented in this study. This study should begin with showing that even in the 1950s, before the beginning of desegregation process, Black people had different incomes. As in the White society, there were the rich and the poor; of course, Black people did not have as the earning potential that some White people did (often due to a lack of education), but the job still defined the person’s financial welfare. Consequently, there were rich and poor areas which were affected differently by desegregation. Such a study should compare the findings with the data obtained from Emmett Scott or a similar school which did not belong to rich Black communities. This study would help to explore the culture of richer Black schools and to trace the effect of racial discrimination and desegregation on its students and the teaching staff.

Second, the study dedicated to Emmett Scott High may be contrasted with the like study dealing with the school in the neighboring area. This study should rely on the same methodology as the one about Emmett Scott; the researcher should find people who worked or studied at the school and whose lives were affected by desegregation. At first glance, it seems that the findings of such a study and the research dealing with Emmett School will be much alike, nevertheless, I am sure that differences will be significant. History is plentiful with examples when same event had different effects on different people. In the case of this research, a number of other issues, not only discrimination and desegregation, may be discussed. For instance, the researcher may focus on teachers’ efforts to soften the effects of desegregation on their students, the students’ education at the desegregated schools and the problems they faced there, and the attitude of the community to the changes.

Third, Emmett Scott High, as an entity, did not undergo desegregation. The school was closed with the implementation of the desegregation plan and the students were transferred to schools which primarily were White (for instance, Rock Hill High). It seems strange, but the desegregation process is associated only with the Black community, though the White students also faced significant changes. After desegregation they had to share their classrooms with Black students and no one asked them if they wanted these changes. It was the norm to believe that White students and families did not want to go to school with Blacks. The reasons for racial oppressions which took place after desegregation should be sought.. Research should be carried out in the form of the interviews since this is the most reliable way to obtain information. For example, I believe that the narratives will be convincing and that the former White students of Rock Hill High will tell interesting stories about their perception of desegregation and the situation at the school when Black and White communities were united.

Finally, there exist a number of other topics for further research. As previously stated this study leaves numerous topics open for further discussions and the researchers may take any of them and using the study about Emmett Scott High as a comparison to their findings. Issues such as racial discrimination and the implementation of desegregation plans will never be too late to discuss or research. Any information relating to the time when desegregation began and even those years when the idea occurred to someone is extremely valuable, because it illustrates why racial discrimination is still present in society. Further research on these issues will help the world fight discrimination and will turn more attention to Black people’s fight for their rights and their eternal desire to be equal with others.


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