Essential QuestionHow did Wichita maintainsegregation of the public schoolslong after the U.S. Supreme Courtdeclared segregationunconstitutional, why did Wichitafinally change, and what wasWichita’s solution?
Two Forms of Segregation• De jure segregation - by law• De facto segregation - by custom or tradition
A Progressive StateIn Kansas, an 1874 law stated it was a crime in Kansas for owners of places of public amusement and entertainment to discriminate on the basis of race or “previous condition of servitude.”
Wichita• Most Black and White children would attend separate, segregated schools up through 8th grade until 1971!• The Court’s Brown decision was in 1954.• How long did it take to desegregate Wichita’s schools? 1971 -1954 17
Wichita• In the 1950s the Black population of Wichita more than doubled and residential segregation increased to 95.3%• How did Wichita maintain de facto segregation when such a large number of Blacks were moving in?
“Gentleman’s Agreement”An informal agreement between two or more parties.It relies upon the honor of the parties for its fulfillment, rather than being in any way enforceable.Example: Neighborhoods
Wichita Wichita’s schools were de facto segregatedAs neighborhoods changed with black familiesmoving into previously white areas, the schoolboard redrew the school boundaries keepingWhite children and Black children fromattending the same elementary schools.
Fighting Integration By 1958, Mathewson Junior Highhad become racially integrated because its neighborhood was 50% White & 50% Black.
Map of Wichita, 1958 NE Brooks Mathewson Coleman Hillside Ave. was a border there were few African- Americans E. of HillsideHillside Kellogg
Fighting Integration By 1958, Mathewson Junior High had become racially integrated because its neighborhood was 50% White & 50% Black.• The city bought a new middle school, Brooks.• Many Black parents petitioned to keep Mathewson an integrated school.• Many White parents asked the school board to send White children living in the Mathewson district to Brooks.
Fighting IntegrationThe School Board redrew the district boundaries to send the White children to Brooks.With White kids removed, Mathewson became 99% Black.In 1966, 80% of Mathewson parents signed a petition asking that their children be able to transfer from Mathewson to other nearby junior high schools.The superintendent rejected their request and the Eagle quoted him saying, “When a school goes beyond thirty percent black, people begin to move.”
Chester LewisIn 1970, Lewis charged that Wichita continued to maintain a segregated school system.Evidence• 6 elementary schools with a student body of 90+% Black and one junior high school (Mathewson)that was likewise 90+% Black• 130 Black teachers, 113 assigned to Black schools• All Black principals were assigned to Black schools• More than 2/3 of the ninety-three portables were located at Black elementary schools
Chester LewisLewis’s legal action brought the first federal investigation of a Midwestern school system for segregating its schools.
Investigation & ConsequencesThe U.S. government’s investigation found that the school board was violating the 14th Amendment, the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.Because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. government was able to withhold $5.3 million federal aid from Wichita until the school board decided to desegregate the schools.
DecisionWichita’s schools desegregated in the fall of the 1971- 72 school year!Only after the U.S. government initiated action to withhold funds did Wichita’s school board agree to desegregate the schools.
Discussion• What happened in Wichita was similar to the school desegregation process in many U.S. cities. Why did it take so long?• Why did the federal government involvement finally make the city take action 17 years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. BOE decision?• How would you be different if you went to school only with people of your same race and/or ethnic background?
The SolutionWichita’s school board decided:Two predominantly black elementary schoolswould be integrated by busing White children inand Black children out: White children selected by a birthday lottery system; for 1 year all Black children living in NE Wichita were bused out of their neighborhoods to predominantly White schools.Five of the seven Black elementary schools wouldbe closed and the buildings put to other uses.
The Solution My story. What do you think about that solution? Clark Elementary 1979-1980, 1st Grade
My story. What do you think about that solution?RexElementary1980-1981,2nd Grade