School Desegregation Took 18 Years

By Sandra K. Yocum

 “I’m eight. I was born on the day of the Supreme Court Decision.” 
Herblock cartoon (Library of Congress)

During the Eisenhower Administration, landmark events shaped the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th Century.  Eight years after the 1954 unanimous ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, the Southern Manifesto (1956), signed by more than 100 Democratic Congressmen, resisted school desegregation with open defiance and violence. Democrats intensified their illegal oppression of blacks in the South because desegregation was not federally implemented and had no timetable.

Democratic Southern governors, mayors, senators, members of Congress, and members of the law enforcement, all obstructed the civil rights agenda. Democratic governors James Davis (LA), Orville Faubus (AR), George Wallace (GA), Ross Barnett (MS), and senators Strom Thurman (SC), Robert Byrd (WV) and Richard Russell (GA) led the violent resistance.  (Richard Russell Senate Building is named after him).

One of Richard Nixon’s first essential issues that confronted his administration was the successful desegregation of southern schools. The Johnson administration left Nixon with 68% of blacks in all-black schools, but by the end of Nixon’s first term, this statistic was only 8% of blacks attended all-black schools. It took 18 years to finally implement school desegregation in the South after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.

About the author: Sandra K. Yocum is the Founder/President of the Yocum African-American History Association (YAAHA) that is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the events which shaped the lives and contributions of African-Americans. Information can be found at: