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Joe T. Patterson and the White South's DilemmaEvolving Resistance to Black Advancement$
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Robert E., Jr. Luckett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781496802699

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496802699.001.0001

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School Desegregation and Freedom of Choice

School Desegregation and Freedom of Choice

(p.193) Chapter 10 School Desegregation and Freedom of Choice
Joe T. Patterson and the White South's Dilemma

Robert E. Luckett

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Joe T. Patterson's stand on the so-called Freedom of Choice desegregation plans. When the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) announced its intention to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Patterson, as a member of the Mississippi Board of Education, came up with the Freedom of Choice. Under the Freedom of Choice plans, students could choose to attend any school within their district. It was the perfect example of Patterson's strategy to maintain white power by appealing to a common American value of freedom without mentioning race at all. This chapter begins with a discussion of Patterson's defense in Coffey v. State Educational Finance Commission, in which he laid out the evolution of his belief in practical segregation. It then considers the emergence of a more sophisticated racism in Mississippi and Patterson's battle with HEW over desegregation of public schools, in which he linked HEW's legal arguments to the civil rights movement. It also looks at Patterson's efforts to bolster Freedom of Choice.

Keywords:   desegregation, Joe T. Patterson, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Freedom of Choice, Coffey v. State Educational Finance Commission, practical segregation, racism, Mississippi, public schools, civil rights movement

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