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Class Year

2006

Abstract

At the shining apex of racial reform in the civil rights era stands the historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Recently passing its fiftieth anniversary, the ruling struck down legal school segregation which had been upheld by the same court some fifty-eight years earlier in the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. Brown is highly revered today as a sacred document and cornerstone of American race-relations, but the ruling initially garnered widespread shock, outrage, and defiance in the bedrock of segregation, the deep South. At least that is what we have been told. A closer analysis of southern public opinion regarding Brown reveals a multitude of views ranging from pure racist condemnation to praised acceptance and affirmation of racial equality. There were indeed voices of moderation in the South. In the summer of 1954, reaction and response to Brown v. Board of Education in the deep South was not unanimous; there were clear voices of racial moderation that called for a calm rational response, compliance and respect for the ruling, and eager acceptance of integrated education.

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