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Just Trying to Have SchoolThe Struggle for Desegregation in Mississippi$

Natalie G. Adams and James H. Adams

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781496819536

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496819536.001.0001

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Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

Principals and Local Implementation

Chapter:
(p.76) Chapter 4 Weathering the Storm
Source:
Just Trying to Have School
Author(s):

Natalie G. Adams

James H. Adams

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496819536.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the school-level administrators responsible for translating school desegregation plans into a workable model for their particular students, teachers, and staff. It looks at how principals approached such issues as discipline, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and classroom assignments. A primary challenge for many principals working through school desegregation was that they were expected to be the internal change agents responsible for enacting court orders and Department of Health, Education and Welfare desegregation plans, yet their own authority to enact substantive change was often curtailed by the bureaucratic and hierarchical structure of educational decision making. The chapter then demonstrates how race was a determining factor in the principal selection process. School desegregation provided unprecedented opportunities for many white, male teachers and coaches to advance into administration early in their careers. At the same time, a disproportionate number of experienced black principals lost their administrative positions either through dismissals, demotions to assistant principal, or reassignment to bogus positions at the central office.

Keywords:   school desegregation, principals, desegregation plans, educational decision making, principal selection process, black principals, white teachers

On August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille, a category 5 storm, decimated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, leaving homes, businesses, and schools flattened. In Louisiana and Mississippi, 172 people were killed, and another 150 perished in Virginia (primarily Nelson County) in flash floods. One of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history, Camille caused $1.42 billion in damages.1 On the day that it hit, Lamar Beaty, recently appointed new principal of Pass Christian Junior High, was in Starkville waiting to take his final exams to complete his master’s degree from Mississippi State University. Beaty, like most folks living on the coastal South, had been carefully monitoring this hurricane. It first made landfall in Cuba on August 15 as a category 2 hurricane and then returned to the Gulf. As it strengthened in intensity as it stormed across the warm gulf waters, it appeared to be veering toward northern Florida. However, around noon on August 17, it took a turn and began heading straight toward the Mississippi coast. Beaty’s wife was in Mobile with their daughter, who was hospitalized, and their son was staying with grandparents in nearby Houston (MS). Waiting anxiously in Starkville, Beaty decided to go to the highway patrol station to receive the most up-to-date reports on the storm. It was there he received the devastating news from a radio update from Civil Defense. Their team was sitting in an amphibious vehicle in 30 feet of water in the parking lot of North Street Elementary in Pass Christian. One of the highway patrolmen looked at Beatty and said, “Do you know where North Street Elementary is?”2 “Yes,” Beaty replied, “it’s one block from my house and on a little bit higher ground.” Beaty knew he, his family, and his community were in trouble. He sat up all night at the highway patrol station, and early Monday morning made a quick visit to his advisor, who offered him a “B” in the class and an exemption from the final exam. Lamar shook his hand and said, “You got a deal.” When Beaty finally arrived back in Pass Christian, there was nothing left of his home. Schools were canceled until October 1, 1969. (p.77) At a principal’s meeting days before school was to open, the superintendent unexpectantly announced to him: “Beaty, you’re going to be principal of the junior high and the high school.” Beaty’s first reaction was “Sir, I’m not sure I’m ready for this.” To which the superintendent replied, “Then turn in your resignation, and I’ll get someone who is.” Beaty quickly retorted, “I’m ready.”

When Beaty began his first principalship in October 1969, not only was he dealing with the move to a unitary desegregated school situation, but he was also trying to lead a school through the chaos left in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille. Surprisingly, the opening of schools almost two months later than usual and the transition to a desegregated school occurred fairly smoothly. Looking back on the events of 1969, Beaty wondered how these two significant events impacted his school district that year: “If the hurricane hadn’t hit, what would have happened? Would the blacks have resented having to leave their school and go to another school? I think there was probably some resentment, but that school [J. W. Randolph] was pretty much totally destroyed. Would the whites have resented having to go to what had been an all-black school? You know, we don’t know because of Hurricane Camille.”

Most principals in Mississippi did not face a literal storm, as did Beaty, when they first opened their doors in 1969 and 1970 as desegregated schools, but every principal who worked through this time of desegregation weathered his own storm—perhaps a teacher ill-prepared to teach in a diverse heterogeneous classroom, students upset about the canceling of prom, parents dissatisfied with their child’s classroom placement, overcrowded facilities, inadequate resources, vocal criticism of recently adopted discipline policies, an appearance before a district judge to defend an action taken, or a student walkout in protest of school policies. Certainly, some principals endured the storm much better than others. Many white principals resigned or retired. Some did so bitterly, but others recognized it was time to turn the reins over to a new cadre of school administrators ready to take on the challenges of school desegregation. William Lewis, a high school coach in 1969, vividly recalls the meeting in which the long-term principal of Harrison Central High decided to retire:

Mr. Barnett was a great big fellow. Had this big rough voice, and he really commanded the school and ran it his way, the way the old school guys used to run the school house. He really didn’t take kindly to any interference from anybody, and the students were respectful of him. And he called us together the spring of 1969 and said he had made the decision to retire. And I can remember this big strong gruff fellow and tears running down his cheek. And he made this statement that has always stuck with me. And I think it was really prophetic: “Ladies and (p.78) Gentlemen. The time has come for my kind of education to come to an end.” And I think he was exactly right.3

Waiting in the wings were a number of white men, who were given an unprecedented opportunity to hone their skills as administrators at a very young age. Unfortunately, their opportunity often came on the backs of older, more experienced black principals who did not weather the desegregation storm so well. Many of them were demoted or lost their jobs entirely.

It would be at the school level that the “rubber met the road” in determining the implementation of desegregation in the daily work of doing school. Some principals had significant input into major decisions affecting their schools; others had little or no involvement in creating the districtwide desegregation plan but were expected to explain it and enforce it. A primary challenge for many principals working through school desegregation was that they were expected to be the internal change agents responsible for enacting court orders and HEW desegregation plans, yet their own authority to enact substantive change was often curtailed by the bureaucratic and hierarchical structure of educational decision making.4

The Christmas Break: Preparing for Integration in a Hurry

Charles Boone was a principal at Quitman High School in Clark County, Mississippi. Like many of his fellow principals in 1969, he had received no formal training on how to lead a school through desegregation. He was jolted into reality a few weeks after the Alexander v. Holmes (1969) ruling when two men from the HEW walked into his office, handed him a book that was as “thick as a Sears Roebuck Catalog,” and said to him, “When you open up your school after the Christmas holidays, the ninth grade through the twelfth grade will be in this building. And it’s all in the book.”5 They turned around and walked out. He quickly picked up his phone and called his superintendent who said, “Yeah, I just got the same book.” With little guidance from the superintendent or his school board and the “book” being basically useless, Boone realized he needed to get busy and get busy soon. He called the principal at the black school and asked if he could address his student body. The principal agreed. Boone’s strategy going in was that he would build rapport with the black students by demonstrating how similar his own background was to theirs. He shared with them how he had grown up poor and had to struggle to get an education. He thought he was giving an inspirational speech about how one can work hard and overcome life’s (p.79) obstacles to become successful. He intentionally used “we” throughout his address to emphasize that they would all need to work together to make integration successful. He gave what he thought was a “good citizen talk.” It was an abysmal failure. When he finally stopped for a breath, a hundred hands went into the air, and he began addressing their concerns:

  • Will we change the school mascot?
  • What will be our school colors?
  • Is it true that you are going to make us cut our hair?
  • Will I be able to take Algebra?
  • Will we get to play on the basketball team come January?
  • Who will be our teachers?

Boone tried to answer their questions as best he could, quell their fears, and dispel the rumors behind many of the questions. But he returned to his school with the realization that it would be the seemingly mundane decisions he must make that would determine whether or not desegregation would be successful at Quitman High. Boone explained what he did during the month he had to prepare: “During the Christmas holidays, many a night, I’d work all night and all day. I’d come home and shave, take a bath, and put my clothes back on and go work straight without sleep at all or maybe just an hour, trying to get ready during the Christmas holidays to open up January 7.”

Boone and his assistant principal, Arthur Nelson, who was black, spent the Christmas break studying the students’ current schedules, examining their cumulative folders and determining the semester schedule for each student. Boone created a master chart to provide a visual image of the racial breakdown of each class. When he placed a white student in the class, he used a red pen; when he placed a black student in the class, he used a black pen. Boone realized that several of the black seniors transferring to his school in January were going to be a half-unit short of meeting state requirements for graduation. Boone sought guidance on what he needed to do: “I called the State Department. I want it in writing what I’m supposed to do. They didn’t know. I told them, ‘I’m going to fudge on the evidence so these kids can graduate.’ They said, ‘Mr. Boone, we’re not going to question anything you do this year.’” By the end of December, Boone felt confident that he was ready for school to open: “Now, I’ve got it all set up. A new handbook. I’ve got everybody’s schedules, and I’ve got the teachers being in this room or that room. I’ve got it mathematically all worked out during that two weeks over Christmas holidays. Met with my teachers a day early and gave them their assignments. And I’m ready to start. I’m not bragging, I’m praising the Lord. He got me through it.”

(p.80) Boone cites his deep religious faith and daily prayer life as the reason for his success that first semester. “Everything was through prayer and what I thought was right for the kids.” He specifically believes his prayers were answered in the assignment of his assistant principal, whom he did not know before the Christmas break. He described their first encounter:

That was my first night with Mr. Nelson. And I said to him, “Well, I’ve got this problem, and here’s what I think we ought to do.” And he would say, “That sounds fine, Mr. Boone.” Then I would say, “That is what I think we ought to do here.” And he would say, “That’s fine.” I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness, I got an Uncle Tom. I don’t want somebody that agrees with me on everything. I want somebody that tells me if they disagree with me.” So I said, “I’ll outsmart this fellow.” So the next problem I had, I said, “Now, how do you think we ought to handle this?” And he would think, and I would agree with him on his answer. I said, “That’s weird.” And I’d give him another problem. He said, “Well, I think we ought to do this.” I couldn’t believe it. Two individuals, one in the black system and one of the white system, and under an integrated coming event, we had the same goals and were trying to solve them the same way. I said, “Something’s wrong.” So at 2 o’clock in the morning, I walked outside. And I looked up and saw his car tag, and on his car tag it said, “Christ is the Answer.” Now, I can take you to this graveyard right up here and show you a big tombstone—me and my wife—and across the bottom to this day it’s got “Christ is the Answer.”

Tragically, Mr. Nelson and his daughter were killed the following year in a car accident.

Like Charles Boone, John Allen Flynt was a somewhat seasoned principal when desegregation occurred in his school district. In 1960, he began teaching in New Hebron (Lawrence County), a small rural school housing grades 1–12. In 1966, he was appointed principal and coach. When the Alexander ruling came down in October 1969, Flynt began visiting the black schools to gather information about their teachers and their students. He knew he would have some input concerning what black teachers would be assigned to his school, so he wanted to be armed with information about their teaching. However, with Christmas break right around the corner and the superintendent providing no logistical details about the desegregation of their schools, Flynt was anxious. How was he supposed to open his school doors in January as an integrated school when he did not even know who would be teaching at New Hebron or what new students would be enrolling? Finally, right before schools were to open in January, the superintendent called a meeting with all the principals. He asked them to go around the room and state their (p.81) main priority in terms of teacher need. After the last person made his declaration, the superintendent stood up, told them to “work it out,” and then left the room. The principals began vying for teachers. Flynt and another principal both wanted Coach Swancy Brown at their school. Flynt wanted him to teach math; the other principal wanted him to coach. At the end of the day, after much discussion and negotiation, Coach Brown was assigned to New Hebron along with eight other black teachers.6

Unlike Charles Boone and John Allen Flynt, Jim Brewer was a brand-new principal when he took over the leadership of Jefferson Middle School in Columbia, which was to open on January 7, 1970, as a desegregated school. Similar to many black high schools during desegregation, Jefferson High School, the formerly all-black school, was converted to Jefferson Middle. Jefferson High was the pride of the black community, but it had been woefully underresourced. When Jim and his superintendent took a tour of the school before Christmas break, Jim was appalled at the condition of the facilities— broken desks, unusable electrical outlets, peeling paint, and a general disrepair.7 The neglect of black schools and the sudden need to improve them in preparation of white students was a challenge many school districts faced as they hastily prepared for desegregation. A 1970 NEA report about the status of desegregation in Mississippi and Louisiana observed: “A fortunate result, regarded by black students with some cynicism, has been the renovation and remodeling of the black schools to make them fit for white students. As noted by the earlier task force, great emphasis is placed on repainting of restrooms and locker rooms, replacing commodes, and on obliterating all emblems of school and racial identity.”8 Brewer’s first order of business as the new principal was to spruce up his school building. He asked twenty black and white high school boys to help over Christmas break. He thought it would also be a good opportunity for them to get acquainted before they began school together in January. These student volunteers helped repair the school and moved books, furniture, supplies, and equipment to the “new” Jefferson Middle School.

Jim Brewer knew that many of the whites held lingering doubts about sending their children to a school located in an all-black neighborhood, and black parents were concerned about how their children would be treated in an integrated setting with a new, white principal. To help alleviate their concerns, Brewer held an open house the Sunday before the opening day of school. To his surprise, 735 students and adults attended. As black and white parents greeted each other walking down the halls, Jim felt confident and prepared for the next day as he explained: “I was fairly young, and I looked at it as a real challenge. To be very frank I was excited the Sunday afternoon went (p.82) down so well. The teachers were prepared; the classrooms were prepared, and I was pretty wrapped up. I didn’t expect any trouble, and we didn’t have any.”

Starkville city school superintendent B. Hall Buchannan had spent some time trying to prepare his school personnel for desegregation. He met regularly with the principals, apprised them of upcoming changes, and on occasion solicited input from them. Fenton Peters, who was principal of the all-black Henderson High, described those meetings of which he was a part:

It was a joint effort, preparing for what was going to happen. I was part of the process, but it was not left entirely up to me. The rules and what not came down from on high. [Superintendent Buchannan] and his assistants, the central office staff and the school board, devised and contrived a major plan and process about what was going to happen and what way we were going to do it. Now we had an administrative council. It was all the administrators there surrounding the superintendent, and we came up with some things that we felt, as professionals, would probably go best or work better as opposed to that way. Of course, as I said, everyone had their input. I don’t know if everybody got heard. Some people got heard a little more than what others did.9

Starkville’s desegregation plan was based on grade centers using all existing school buildings. There was a first-and second-grade school, a third-grade school, and so forth.10 Starkville High was the only school in the district for grades 10–12. This grade-center approach to achieving desegregation alleviated competing schools in which the black/white ratio had to be carefully monitored since citywide all students in one grade attended one school. The plan was effective in meeting the requirements to implement a unitary school system, but it was not without its critics. Many members of the black community were upset about losing Henderson High, a school with a rich history and a centerpiece of the black community. Also, Fenton Peters would not continue as the high school principal when the Starkville schools desegregated; he was demoted to principal of the middle school.

Making It through the First Day

Was today a success? This was the question looming over every principal’s head at the end of opening day in January, February, August, or September 1970. The decisions, the all-nighters over Christmas and summer break, and the constant worry all culminated in having a successful first day. The measures for judging that success varied from school to school. For many (p.83) principals, a successful first day meant no violence and few disruptions inside or outside the building. For others, the main criterion for claiming success at the end of the day was that white students showed up. For yet others, it was that teachers were prepared, students were in the classrooms, and learning took place. High on every principal’s list for a successful first day was making sure that his school opened in an orderly manner and the day was as “normal” as possible.

Jim Brewer sought the help of parents and community members to ensure no disruptions occurred on opening day at Jefferson Middle School. He asked key members of the community to serve as hall monitors. Their job was simply to check for any disturbance or commotion and to praise the students for good behavior as they changed classes or walked to and from bathrooms and the cafeteria. At the end of the day, Brewer was proud of their accomplishments: “We had class on the first day. The students went to their classrooms; they knew where to go, and the teachers were teaching that first day, and we were extremely proud of that.”

Fenton Peters did not know what to expect the first day of school desegregation at Armstrong Middle School in Starkville. Perhaps he was a bit preoccupied with other matters since his wife was in the hospital giving birth to their second son. He described opening day: “While my son was being delivered by cesarean, the superintendent and I were walking around my school making sure that nothing happened. The superintendent was touring schools to make sure, as much as he could, that nothing out of the way happened, that nothing went wrong, and nothing did. To be honest, compared to other places, it was smooth as a dollar. I did not think it would go that smooth, but it did. It fooled me and a lot of other folks.” On opening day at Beaumont High School (Perry County), a concerned white father waited outside while his daughter entered her newly desegregated school. He admitted to the local paper that perhaps desegregation may work better than he thought; however, he added, “if anything happens to my girl. If she’s insulted by a nigra, I’ll come over there and knock hell out of Adcox.” Bill Adcox, the principal of the high school, considered the man’s comment indicative of a first good day and a sign of progress in the community: “Last year the same man said he would shoot me if we desegregated the school.”11

The local, state, and national press was out in full force in January 1970 eager to capture for the rest of the country the drama unfolding as the state that had fought Brown the longest was forced to comply finally with school desegregation. Many principals had to expend considerable time and energy on the first day keeping the press at bay and out of their schools. Like most principals, Jim Brewer had no formal training on how to deal with the media, deliver a (p.84) press conference, or write a press release. But Brewer quickly received a crash course in school-media relations. On the morning Jefferson Middle School opened its doors as a desegregated school, Principal Brewer was dealing with two immediate concerns: determining the veracity of a rumor circulating that a band of one hundred white parents was marching toward the school to protest integration and disrupt the school day and preventing the press from entering his school building. The rumor about the marchers proved false, but he did have to confront the media. Brewer explained how he dealt with the press: “I had to tell them they couldn’t come in and take pictures inside while we were having classes. ‘No way are you going to disrupt our school.’ But they took pictures of the outside, and that was about it. That lasted only about twenty minutes, and they went somewhere else to take pictures.”

When the reporters from the national networks, including Dan Rather, showed up at Neshoba Central High School in Philadelphia (home of the horrific murder of civil rights workers in 1964), Principal Leo Salter solicited the help of the police to keep members of the media off his campus. A few tried to force their way into the building. The police escorted them out as they and Salter exchanged shouts with the press calling for “first amendment rights” and Salter replying, “You don’t have any right to be here while we are having school.” It took about two weeks for all the press to leave Neshoba County. The experience left Salter with a rather low opinion of journalists. His son, Sid, would go on to become one. Sid commented, “I think my dad would have been happier had I told him I wanted to be a horse thief than I wanted to be journalist because he didn’t have any use for them.”12

Larry Van Dyke did not have the luxury of a Christmas break to prepare for the first day of desegregation. He was appointed principal of Holly Springs Elementary the day before school was to open in January 1970. Larry knew he was specifically chosen for the job because he was a “Yankee outsider … someone you can hate more easily.”13 Larry was from Memphis, and he and his wife, a physician, had recently returned from Africa, where they served as missionaries for six months. According to Van Dyke, they approached their new jobs in Holly Springs with a religious zeal: “We were both being missionaries in our fields. And we thought it was important because we could talk and socialize with the movers and shakers in the town of Holly Springs, so we felt that was more than just a ministry to the poor and needy. So that was where we were coming from.” He met his teachers and students for the first time the morning that school opened. By then, almost all the white students and most of the white teachers had fled to the private school. However, a group of whites tried to intimidate black parents and students. Van Dyke explained:

(p.85) The day we opened there was a narrow road to the main entrance to the primary building. The cars were lined up and down. The school bus [with black students] could hardly get through. Of course, there was the yelling and shouting and all that, but they stopped at the front door. They were hoping that they [the black students] wouldn’t come to school if they saw all those white people there defending their school. I called the superintendent. He said, “I know. We’ve got it the same way at the junior high.” And the bus driver was black, which I thought was pretty brave of him to drive in. The superintendent had notified the police and sheriff in case they needed help. Once the kids got into the school, the cars that were parked along the sides drove away. This continued for a few days.

While Larry Van Dyke was trying to contend with whites parked beside his school, he was also dealing with the media determined to “get some real good candid pictures of what the classrooms were going to be like.” He refused them entrance and tried his best to limit their contact with students or teachers. This meant that he had to make the decision on that first day of school to cancel recess. He noted that the first few days were simply about surviving.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child: Rethinking Discipline

After the first few days, the press left and initial uncertainties were abated, principals were faced with the real challenge of having school. Weighing heavily on both black and white patrons was the issue of discipline. They expected their principal to be first and foremost a strong disciplinarian who would establish and maintain a safe environment conducive to teaching and learning. He was also expected to allay the fears of white parents as reported in an article in the Meridian Star on January 11, 1970:

A major concern among white parents is discipline. Parents were assured in meetings at Yazoo City that any trouble would be stopped immediately. Robert Barrett, the no-nonsense principal of Natchez desegregated high school complex, told an audience of 200 black and 200 white juniors that any fight, racial or otherwise, would result in a two-week suspension. “Your conduct must be above reproach,” Barrett said. “The administration has worked 18 to 20 hours a day for weeks to get ready for this semester. We don’t have time for petty problems.14

Despite their concerns rarely being expressed in the local papers, black parents were equally concerned about discipline, and with good reason, (p.86) given the ill treatment of many black students attending schools under FOC and the elimination of black leadership in newly integrated schools. Black parents worried that their children under massive desegregation would face a hostile learning environment that threatened their children’s safety, academic achievement, and emotional and physical well-being.

During the early years of school desegregation, concerns about discipline were often veiled in the language of “cultural differences”; that is, blacks and whites in the South lived in such different “cultures” that conflicts over appropriate school behavior would inevitably occur. School districts often held workshops for their teachers and staff to prepare them for cross-cultural differences between black and white students. Principals were expected to be the mediators when conflicts occurred, as illustrated in the following 1955 article appearing in Educational Leadership:

The principal, of course, has the responsibility for maintaining order and discipline in his school … It must be remembered that in many areas of the South we have had in effect what amounts to almost two separate cultures developing and proceeding parallel to each other. In some instances, these cultures have not had many points of contact which can serve as a basis for integrating the youth of the two different groups into one harmonious student body. When the two cultures begin to come into contact at this common point, the public school, frictions may occur.15

Many principals were surprised to discover during the desegregation process that black and white students in their segregated schools were, in fact, held to remarkably similar expectations about student conduct. When comparing the discipline policies of Quitman High to the black high school, Charles Boone found the biggest difference between the two was the severity of punishment: “Where our policy would say, ‘You’ll get a day out of school [suspension] for doing so-and-so,’ theirs said, ‘You’ll get two weeks off.’ Their rules were much, much, much more strenuous than mine.”

Most school districts in the throes of school desegregation devised new discipline policies in hopes that community fears and anxieties about student integration would be alleviated. Stringent and often quite detailed, these policies were widely disseminated and published in the local paper. The following excerpt from the Starkville City school system, published on September 9, 1970 in the Starkville Daily News, is representative:

The following list provides specific examples of misconduct requiring immediate suspensions and-or expulsions. It is not intended to be a complete listing of all possible actions of breach of contract.

  1. (p.87) 1. Skipping school or class and-or leaving a campus without permission

  2. 2. Fighting or provoking a fight or disturbance

  3. 3. Possession or use of weapons of any nature, or objects that could be classified as a weapon, such as knives, sharp pointed or blunt instruments

  4. 4. The theft of objects belonging to individuals or any item or items of school property

  5. 5. The possession or use of drugs

  6. 6. Possession or use of fireworks in any form

  7. 7. Possession or use of alcohol

  8. 8. The use of vulgarity, profanity, or obscenity whether spoken, written, or through action or implication16

The discipline policy of the Vicksburg Public Schools, published in the local paper on September 3, 1970, went into great detail defining the many different ways in which students could violate appropriate and expected norms of behavior. For example, number 17 of their violations specifically addressed “intimate associations of students”:

17. Intimate association of students must be kept on an honorable and reasonable level at all times during the school day and at school functions and at school sponsored activities. Gestures and acts beyond holding hands and arms will be considered interruptive to the learning atmosphere of the school. The first offense will call for a firm warning to students involved and a letter to parents. The second offense will bring about a one (1) day suspension from school. The second offense will result in a three (3) day suspension from school. The third offense will call for a five (5) day suspension from school.17

Recognizing his community’s concerns about discipline, one of Charles Boone’s first orders of business was to create a new student handbook. He sought the help of his students:

It was one of the smartest things I did in this whole integration. I met with the black girls. You think about it. Girls of the same color will ask different questions [than] they would if white girls were there. They’ll ask different questions [than] they would if boys were there. They asked some pretty good questions, and a lot of my answers were “What do I need to do?” I took good notes. I did it with the black boys. I did it with the white boys. Then I would put the black and white boys together and see if they had a question, and the white girls and the black girls together. So I hashed the rules out, and we cut them crossways anyway. But they taught me a lot of things that I had to solve that I didn’t know were going to be problems to work out at the time.

(p.88) As part of his new discipline plan, Boone required all students to wear a photo name badge at all times. If a student misbehaved, then the teacher took his/ her name badge and then contacted the office. He explained, “Here was the system. The teachers stood at the doors and dismissed the students when the bell rang. They watched the hall. If a young lady walked up to you, and said, ‘That boy just pinched me on the behind,’ then the teacher walked over to that young man and said, ‘May I have your ID card?’ They were then called in later so not to disturb the class.”

Like most principals, Lamar Beaty, principal at Pass Christian Junior/ Senior High, took his job as head disciplinarian very seriously. He was constantly worried that mayhem would suddenly erupt, and he would be unable to control the situation. Beaty was particularly on edge when students congregated in places with little teacher surveillance. The pep rally was one of those angst-inducing places: “I had a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself worrying about things that might happen that never did. You think, What’s the worst that could happen? You have a race riot? Man I dreaded pep rallies because you get a large crowd together. You know something is more likely to happen then than any other time, and I used to dread those—hated them with a passion, but nothing ever happened. I don’t think the kids—they weren’t thinking the same way I was.” What Beaty is speaking to in the above quote is the conflicting beliefs about how to manage student behavior during desegregation. On the one hand, some subscribed to the belief that if adults would just leave students alone and allow them opportunities to get to know each other, they would resolve potential conflicts on their own. Strict, militaristic discipline codes would be counterproductive if the aim was to encourage black and white students to get to know each other as individuals and discover they shared many more similarities than they did differences. Potential behavior problems would be lessened because of students’ own self-regulation and monitoring. On the other hand, the prevailing belief of the time was that the best way to control student behavior and actions (at school or at home) was by firm, heavy-handed adult intervention. The old adage “spare the rod, spoil the child” dictated discipline in most homes and schools (both black and white) in the South during this time period. Thus, corporal punishment was an expected component of any school discipline policy.

Mississippi did not have an official state policy about the use of corporal punishment in school; local school districts were free to make their own rules about whether or not it would be used and under what circumstances.18 Thus, paramount on everyone’s mind going into school desegregation was not whether corporal punishment would be used but rather how it would be used and who would administer it. This concern was further complicated by (p.89) the South’s history of whites using force and physical violence to punish and discipline blacks. Understandably, when discipline policies were adopted in newly desegregated schools, many black parents recoiled at the thought of a white principal inflicting physical punishment on their children. Conversely, many white parents objected to the reversal of power relations and stood firm against black teachers inflicting physical punishment on their children.

One common way of dealing with discipline during the transition to desegregated schools was to assign the administration of corporal punishment based on race. John Allen Flynt, principal at New Hebron, explained the district’s policy: “We had rules in the county office on paddling. I would paddle the white kids, and Swancy Brown and Smith Lucas, two of the black teachers, one of them would take care of the black kids. I had a couple of black boys in my office one time, and I told them I was going to give them a paddling, so let’s go get Coach Brown. And they said, “Why don’t you do it?” I didn’t whip as hard as the black teachers did.” A similar arrangement existed at Magnolia Junior High where George Dale as the principal disciplined the white students, and the assistant principal, Inez Green, took care of the black students as Dale describes:

Mrs. Green would walk around with a long ruler. A lot of the black ninth-grade students had been held back for whatever reason and were older than the ninth-grade white kids. And the white parents were concerned that there were older black boys in the junior high. If one of them misbehaved, they were sent to the office to Mrs. Green. She would either make them lean over the desk, and she would pop them with that long ruler. It wouldn’t hurt, but I’m sure it would embarrass them to death that Mrs. Green made them grab their ankles and lean over her desk.19

However, sometimes central administration or principals adopted a race-neutral approach to administering discipline. When Charles George was appointed assistant principal at West Tallahatchie, his principal, Larry Garvin, put George, who is black, in charge of all the discipline. George explained why:

I took care of the discipline—both white and black. The reason why I was chosen by the principal to do the discipline was because everybody knew me. The whites and blacks knew me. And they felt that it would be done without any difference. In other words, what was good for one was good for the other. So I paddled whites. I paddled blacks. And those that didn’t want to get paddled, I gave them the opportunity. I said, “Now, you take this paddling or you go home for three days.” If they went home, I told them, “Now your parents have to bring you back.” (p.90) So I had some of the white parents brought their children back same way as the blacks. So when they came back, those white parents told me, “Now if my child does wrong, I want you to tear them up.”20

Lamar Beaty felt that the divvying up of discipline based on race ran counter to the intentions of desegregation. Beaty had two assistant principals—one white and one black—working with him at Pass Christian Junior/Senior High. He explained how he intentionally implemented a different approach to discipline at his school: “The first thing I told them was that there will be no you’re white, you discipline the white kids. You’re black, you discipline the black. No, Mr. Kirk [white AP] is to discipline grades 7 and 8, and Mr. Swanier [black AP], you’ve got 9 to 12. And I basically gave him all the discipline to transportation and few other minor things, and this freed me up to deal with primarily faculty and staff and everything.”

The pervasive belief of the time was that principals should lead their schools with a heavy hand, albeit a “fair “hand. “No tolerance” policies, particularly toward fighting, were often adopted. John Allen Flynt met with his students at the still-segregated New Hebron right before Christmas break and clearly laid out the discipline policy: “If you get in a fight with a black student, then the two of you will be going home [meaning suspended].” Early on, his policy was tested. A white boy broke in front of a black student in the cafeteria line, and the black boy hit him. Flynt suspended both of them. The white boy never returned. Lamar Beaty faced a similar situation; however, he responded differently when a white boy, known as a troublemaker, decided on the first day of school to start a fight with a black student:

He picked the meanest, biggest black he could find and was going to whip him on the front campus one afternoon, and he got beat into the ground by this black kid. And I suspended the white kid, and I did not discipline the black, and oh Lord, the “you know what” hit the fan, but everybody said that John started it, and John admitted that he started it, so he got the punishment for it. And I had problems with that family the entire year.

Making judicious decisions about discipline often put white principals at odds with their white constituents who presumed they shared their racist beliefs. Flynt explains what happened when one of his white students refused to address his black teacher with a professional title: “Some were going to hold out. I had one boy that a teacher sent to my office, a white boy. He was not going to say Miss or Mr. to any black teacher. And I told him, ‘Well go to your locker and get your books.’ He said, ‘What for?’ I said, ‘Well, you are going (p.91) home. You can’t go to school here if you’re not going to show your teacher respect.’ He said, ‘Give me another chance.’ So he went back to class.” When Flynt opened the doors of his new school in January, a white parent offered to buy small Dixie drinking cups so black and white students would not have to drink out of the same water fountain. Flynt declined his offer, telling the father: “No need for that. We’ll make it.” When Larry Box was principal of Sudduth Elementary in Starkville, a white parent was furious that black children were touching his daughter’s carrot-colored hair. Box felt the children were simply demonstrating natural, childlike curiosity. However, the father believed differently. He called Box one night and threatened him: “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to be in the bushes outside your building with a gun, and I’m going to stop it.”21

Two areas of discipline were of particular concern to black parents who felt their children were being unfairly targeted. The first was the classification of “weapons.” Concerns about safety on school campuses meant that most discipline policies of the time contained a clause that students could be suspended for “possessing any object that could be classified as a weapon.” This translated in many high schools to prohibitions against students bringing an Afro or pic comb to school. Fenton Peters, a principal in Starkville, explains: “A big Afro was the style at that time, and a pic comb was made of metal, so it was considered a weapon. So black kids could not bring a pic comb to school.” This ban on one type of grooming tool while others were allowed (e.g., a hairbrush) appeared discriminatory toward black students. The second concern was the ban on facial hair. This was particularly problematic since many of the segregated black high schools in the late 1960s allowed students to wear beards, mustaches, and goatees, while white schools typically required male students to be “clean shaven.” This conflict about personal taste and appearance led to a showdown between the white principal and forty-one black students at Riverside High School (Western Line School District) when the schools desegregated in 1970. The black students transferred to Riverside from O’Bannon and Glen Allan, where facial hair was permitted. However, the principal at Riverside implemented a “no facial hair” policy. He justified his decision as a way “to prevent students who deviate from ‘normal’ appearance from becoming ‘distractions’ from classroom work.” In defiance of the Riverside policy and citing that mustaches were a symbol of black identity and pride, the black students refused to shave. The principal suspended all of them. Three students filed a lawsuit, and one week after their suspension, federal Judge William Keady ordered the reinstatement of the students and a “relaxing” of the enforcement of such dress codes, citing no evidence that facial hair was an academic disruption. In nearby Greenville High School, a (p.92) similar incident occurred in which a former Coleman High student was suspended for refusing to shave.22

Defiance of school dress codes was not unique to southern school districts undergoing desegregation in the late 1960s and 1970s. This was the height of the student protest movement, and students from California to Chicago to New York fought for the right to wear longer hair, black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, and for girls to wear shorter dresses and pants. Judges throughout the country adjudicated dozens of dress code and “hair cases,” often with conflicting rulings.23 But the regulations against facial hair and the classification of Afro combs as weapons were not merely fights about adolescents’ rights to freedom of expression; in newly desegregated schools in the South, these were racially charged conflicts spawned by deeply ingrained beliefs and fears about black masculinity and black power, which played out in the disciplinary policies adopted in many schools.

Disintegration: The Loss of Black Principals

In the segregated South, black educators held an esteemed position within their communities as middle-class professionals with status and some semblance of financial security. Black principals were particularly revered, as they held one of the few positions of power and leadership available to blacks during Jim Crow and often served as liaisons between the black and white communities as described by Frederick Rodgers:

The principal was the man who ran the school and, in many cases, the Black community. His influence in community affairs was almost without exception great. He was, therefore, central in community life and was indeed more knowledgeable about what was going on than anyone else. Also, as head of the Black high school, he had a role in the white power structure as well. This usually put him in the position of knowing more about the larger community than any other Black in the Black community. He was often the only Black with whom influential members of the white community had anything approaching professional contact.24

However, with school desegregation in Mississippi, the black principal was almost entirely eliminated, which would be one of the most detrimental consequences of school desegregation.25

In 1970 the National Education Association (NEA) commissioned a task force to study the effects of school desegregation in seventy school districts in Mississippi and Louisiana. What they discovered was, indeed, bleak: “[W]hat (p.93) is happening in Louisiana and Mississippi schools is not integration; rather, it is disintegration—the near total disintegration of black authority in every area of the system of public education. “26 The task force described four ways in which black principals had lost their status and authority:

  • Outright demotion
  • “Phasing Down” of the Black Principals’ Schools (i.e., closing Black schools)
  • Retention of Title with Diminution of Authority
  • Paper promotion27

The loss of black principals was not only devastating to individuals who lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and their authority, but it was equally demoralizing to the black community as further indication that the school desegregation for which many had fought so valiantly would extol a grave price on black individuals and the black community.

According to 1970 NEA testimony before a Senate Committee, 5,000 principals and teachers in southern states either lost their jobs or were demoted as a result of desegregation.28 According to James Haney, between 1967 and 1970, “the number of black principals in North Carolina dropped from 620 to 170, in Alabama from 250 to 40, and Mississippi lost almost all of its 250 black principals.”29 While exact figures are difficult to confirm, plenty of anecdotal data exists to confirm Adam Fairclough’s poignant assertion that the “main casualties of integration were the black schools and the men who had run them.”30 In Rankin County, a black principal was demoted to administrative assistant to the white principal at the school where the black principal was formerly in charge. In Hinds County, a black principal with more than twenty years of experience was demoted to a classroom teacher, and in Winston County, the black principals demoted to assistant principals were “in name only with no authority.”31 In Houston (Chickasaw County), Warren Cousin was demoted from principal to assistant principal in 1970–71, despite having ten years of experience as a principal. In 1975 his assistant principal position was eliminated, and the school district failed to assign him to a principal position.32 In his 1971 senior thesis analyzing the immediate effects of the Alexander ruling, Luther Munford offered additional examples. In Covington County, a black principal with a degree from Cornell was demoted to “administrative assistant” in the new high school when his school become a junior high; a black high school principal in Leake County was made co-principal but assigned to oversee the “black side” of the building; and a black high school principal in Franklin County became an elementary principal.33 The underlying reason why black principals lost their jobs during school (p.94) desegregation was succinctly explained in a 1969 article in the Chicago Tribune about the attempted demotion of the black high school principal in Humphreys County (MS) to assistant principal at his own school: “It’s traditional in Mississippi that no Negro has authority over any white.”34

Fenton Peters was in his second year as the principal of Henderson High School, the only black high school in Starkville, when the Starkville city schools were court-ordered to desegregate in 1970. He was quick to correct the usage of the term “desegregation” to explain the events: “The term is court-ordered desegregation. Had it not been court ordered it probably would not have happened till this very day … the powers that be at that time had to have a scapegoat to lean on and say ‘they made me do it,’ and that’s how it got done.” Peters was not chosen to be the principal of Starkville High. He was, however, appointed principal at Armstrong Middle School. A newspaper reporter at the time interviewed him because, according to the reporter, he was one of only a handful of black principals leading integrated schools in Mississippi during the first year of desegregation.

As the principal of Henderson High School, Fenton Peters had status and power in the black community. Well-respected by the superintendent, Peters was part of the administrative council comprised of all the principals who met regularly with the superintendent during initial discussions about how to implement desegregation. Nevertheless, when the superintendent and his close allies were working out the desegregation plan for Starkville city schools, which included the closing of Henderson High, where Peters was principal, he had little clout. He noted, “None of our recommendations—when I say ‘us’ I mean black people at that time—they took very few recommendations from us. Most of them came from the white community.” His main charge during the planning phase was to disseminate information about the desegregation process to the black community, many of whom were incensed about the proposed closing of their beloved high school. Eventually, the superintendent decided to convert Henderson High to a junior high, rather than close it. Peters found himself in the middle of this tension—being a spokesperson for the black community but having to take orders from the white power structure. In 1976 Peters was appointed principal at Starkville High, the first black principal at the high school and one of the few black men leading desegregated high schools at the time. Despite his reputation in the community as a strong educational leader, many whites were not pleased with his appointment, and he soon became the target of their wrath. Peters explained:

About two, three months into my tenure that first year, the house rumbled, shook. I went to the back and looked—smoke everywhere. My mailbox has been blown (p.95) up. Of course, I called the sheriff, and they came out and didn’t see anybody. A couple of days later, I put a new mailbox, and it rumbled again, shook the house. This time, it was found down near the intersection. The sheriff and I were personal friends. A mailbox is federal property. The sheriff called the FBI. I told the sheriff that that sounds like dynamite, but he said, “Fenton, that is nothing but a cherry bomb.” I said, “No, a cherry bomb doesn’t shake the house.” I asked the FBI agent, “What do you think caused this?” and he said, “Probably a blasting cap and a third stick of dynamite.”

Charles Nash was one of the few black men appointed lead principal during the first year of massive desegregation. Nash was twenty years old when he began teaching science in the segregated school system of his hometown of McComb. During his second year of teaching, he was appointed assistant principal of Burglund High School, the segregated black high school in McComb; two years later, in 1968, he was appointed principal of West Brook Elementary School. Nash was part of a team of teachers who traveled to Stanford (CA) the summer of 1967 as part of an innovative program to bring distance learning to the children of McComb. The supervisor of the Stanford program recommended Nash to be the director of the program back in McComb. However, Superintendent Julian Prince did not offer him the job. According to Nash, Prince did not think McComb would accept a black man in a districtwide leadership position: “The time wasn’t right for them to choose me to direct this system-wide activity, so instead of giving me that job as coordinator, [Prince] offered me the job as principal of West Brook Elementary School, so that’s how I got to be a principal.”35

When full-scale desegregation took place in McComb in 1971, Nash was appointed principal of Hughes Elementary School, the school for all first-graders in McComb. It was a significantly symbolic appointment in a town with a violent racial past.36 Every first grader in McComb would have as their first exposure to a principal—a young, black man. He describes his first year as a positive experience for him, his students, and their parents: “It was the best year I have ever had since I’ve been in the academic area. Most often I would be at the entry to welcome the children to school in the mornings. They didn’t see me as the black principal, and the parents, apparently it didn’t bother them. The black children would come up and hug the principal, and the little white children would come up and hug the principal.” Nash was principal for one year before deciding to make a major change in his professional career. Two factors contributed to that decision. One, in devising the hierarchy of leadership in the newly desegregated McComb schools, the superintendent created the position of “supervising principal,” to which all the elementary (p.96) school principals reported. This position lessened the power and authority of the school building principals, which Nash said rubbed him the wrong way. According to the 1970 NEA Task Force report, these types of new positions were created in many districts in Louisiana and Mississippi: “In a number of districts visited, … various new positions, held by whites, have been created since desegregation. These positions held such titles as ‘area principal,’ ‘supervising principal’ and ‘curriculum coordinator.’ It is widely believed by blacks that these newly titled whites constitute the real authority behind the black principals, who have been reduced to a more figure head status.”37 Nash also felt he was not getting paid enough for the job he was doing. He asked Superintendent Prince for a raise: “We had a very nice conversation. We always had a great relationship, and he said, “Charles, I understand. I hear what you are saying, but I’m already paying you as much as I’m paying the most experienced principal in the school district, and he named the person who was that.” He returned from his meeting and called Dr. Leonard McCullough at Mississippi State. McCullough had contacted him earlier about enrolling in a doctoral program and working for the Mississippi Educational Services Center, whose purpose was to help schools through the desegregation transition. Nash told McCullough that he was ready for the new challenge, and two weeks later, he packed his car and headed to Starkville.

When Nash was appointed principal at Hughes Elementary, he already held a master’s degree, which served him well during the transition to desegregated schools because academic credentials were often used as justification in the throes of hastily devised desegregation plans for promoting young, white assistant principals to principals. When Lamar Beaty was appointed principal at Pass Christian, his superintendent told him, “Don’t come back to Pass Christian in August without your master’s, because if you do, we won’t have a job for you.” Beaty traveled to Mississippi State to complete his master’s degree. Later, he learned the reason behind the superintendent’s order: “I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a gentleman at the black school who had been there longer than I had in the system, but he did not have a master’s degree, but I think they felt like if I didn’t have a master’s degree, they would have to offer it to him.” The demotion to assistant principal was a bitter pill for many black principals to swallow, often serving under a principal with far less experience and sometimes at the same schools where a year earlier they had served as principal. Certainly, many white principals and black assistant principals were able to forge professional relationships and work collaboratively and cooperatively through the desegregation process. Indeed, in many communities, the white superintendents and principals desperately needed their black assistant principals to help smooth the transition into desegregated (p.97) schools. They were expected to serve as the bridge between the black students and the white principals as well as between the white superintendents and school boards and the black community. Charles George was one of many black principals in Mississippi who served as an assistant principal during school desegregation, and in that role was vital to the smooth transition to school desegregation in his community.

George graduated from Tougaloo College in 1957. Shortly thereafter he received a call from the superintendent of West Tallahatchie offering him not only a job teaching but also the position of principal of the elementary school, so right out of college he became both a teacher and principal. Three years later the superintendent appointed him assistant principal at Tutwiler High School, the black high school. In 1969 with court-enforced desegregation looming, the superintendent met with George and his principal to solicit their help in implementing a peaceful transition to desegregated schools in their district. According to George, they devised a strategy to help get their community on board:

My principal and I came to the conclusion that the best thing for us to do is sit down, select some influential people in the black community and some influential whites, and let’s have a dialogue. We selected a black person from every community where we had a school. We had five school districts and we pulled five blacks from those districts. So we sat down and had dialogue and he explained to them that integration was here. It wasn’t a thing that had been spoken of and what hadn’t been done, but it’s here. So we went back to our different schools and began talking to our teachers and students.

George met with his teachers, telling them, “if you think you aren’t going to be able to work in an integrated situation, we want you to say ‘yes’ now and then you may go seek employment someplace else.” No black teachers left. However, when principals were appointed to the newly desegregated schools, no black principals in West Tallahatchie remained as the head of a school. George explains, “The superintendent decided that it would be more successful as far as integration was concerned if that head person were white.” He was appointed the assistant principal. Charles George was not promoted to principal until 1980.

George Dale, who was principal of Magnolia Junior High in Moss Point, gives much credit to his assistant principal, Inez Green, for the success they had the first year despite the tension citywide surrounding school desegregation. When a riot broke out at the high school, it was Mrs. Green that ensured no violence spilled over to the junior high. Dale explains:

(p.98) The best thing that happened to me was that in my new job as principal of Magnolia Junior High, he gave me an assistant—a black lady by the name of Inez Green. Mrs. Green had been a guidance counselor at the black high school. A delightful lady who pretty much ran the black Methodist church. She knew everybody in the black community. The day of the riot at the high school—since we were in the black community—the black kids were leaving the campus in droves, and white parents were getting up there to pick up their kids. Mrs. Green, my assistant, walked in front of the campus, and as the black high school kids were coming down the street to the black neighborhood where our school was located, she said to them, “Get on down the road! Don’t the first one of you get on this campus. Get on down the road, and go to your house.” And we had nobody come on our campus.

Charles George, Dr. Charles Nash, and Dr. Fenton Peters went on to have very successful careers in education. Charles George and Dr. Fen-ton Peters both served as superintendents later in their careers. In 1997, Dr. Peters received the Education Hall of Fame award presented by the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. After Charles George retired, he served on the West Tallahatchie School Board. Today the school district’s office is housed in the Charles M. George Facility for Educational Services. Dr. Charles Nash now serves as the vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the University of Alabama system. In 2008, he was inducted into the McComb High Hall of Fame. However, their inclusion here should not be read as the norm or as a story that with a little time, all turns out well. For every George, Peters, and Nash, there were dozens of black principals who never regained their position or status in the community. As well documented, school boards across the South closed black high schools or converted them into junior high or elementary schools. Schools that had been named for black teachers or historical figures were given new names (e.g., Rosa A. Temple in Vicksburg was changed to Vicksburg Junior High). Black principals were demoted or given meaningless titles. As Dr. Peters poignantly noted as he described the many losses brought about by school desegregation, “They gave us desegregation, but they gave it to us on their terms, so it didn’t turn out like we thought it was going to be.”

The “Average Joe” Doing What Had to Be Done

Many principals, like Charles Boone, found the changes brought about through school desegregation professionally stimulating. As Boone declared, (p.99) “I like a challenge. So I was excited just as though it was my first football game of the year. I knew it had to be done, and I knew God was on my side. And I didn’t see how I could lose.” For ambitious black men, like Charles George, they had to wait years before they were appointed principal. Many others were never given the chance to prove themselves as administrators in charge of their own school. A number of principals simply quit, retired, or sought employment in other fields. For many who stayed, it took a tremendous emotional and physical toil. Leo Salter, the principal at Neshoba Central High School, suffered a stroke at a Rotary Club meeting while discussing upcoming desegregation efforts. He was hospitalized for several weeks. When released, he went straight back to work, telling everyone, “We are going to have school.” Salter’s health continued to deteriorate, and over a period of five years, he had four strokes. Unable to endure the physical stresses of the job, he retired in 1973. As his son, Sid Salter, notes, “integration physically took all the starch out of him.” Sid is proud of how his father handled school desegregation and argues that principals and teachers, like his own parents, have been sorely overlooked for their role in moving the ideal of equal educational opportunity into the reality of integrated schools.

My dad got the bronze star, but if you asked me what I was proudest of about my father’s life; it’s not D-Day. It’s January 1970 because he was able to go into the cauldron and have school. Did he do it perfectly? No. Did he make mistakes? Yes. Was some of it luck? Absolutely. He’d tell you the same. There was nothing exceptional about my parents. They were just average Joe schoolteachers, and there were hundreds of people just like that who should get the credit for that whole exercise working. Not the politicians but the black and white small-town Educators (capital E educators) who decided to have school.

Notes:

(1.) Ernest Zebrowski and Judith Howard, Category 5: The Story of Camille (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2005), 226; R. H. Simpson, Arnold Sugg, and Staff, “The Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1969,” Monthly Weather Review (National Hurricane Center, Weather Bureau, ESSA, Miami, FL, April 1970): 300.

(2.) Lamar Beaty, interview by author, Houston, MS. All quotes from an interviewee are from author interviews unless otherwise noted. A list of the oral history interviews appears in the bibliography.

(3.) Dr. William Lewis, interview by author, Poplarville, MS.

(p.247) (4.) Mark Chesler, James Crowfoot, and Bunyan Bryant, “Institutional Changes to Support School Desegregation: Alternative Models Underlying Research and Implementation,” Law and Contemporary Problems 42, no. 4 (Autumn 1978): 174–213; Gary Orfield, “How to Make Desegregation Work: The Adaptation of Schools to Their Newly-Integrated Bodies,” Law and Contemporary Problems 39, no. 2 (Spring 1975): 314–40; Pat Cordisco, “The Phantom Challenge of the Principalship,” American Secondary Education 1, no. 1 (December 1970): 16–19.

(5.) Charles Boone, interview by author, Quitman, MS.

(6.) John Allen Flynt, interview by author, New Hebron, MS.

(7.) Dr. James Brewer, interview with author, Hazlehurst, MS. Dr. Brewer wrote about his experiences preparing for desegregation in James Brewer, “We Made the Transition from Dual to Unitary,” Mississippi Educational Advance 61, no. 8, (May 1970): 14, 31.

(8.) Report of NEA Task Force III, School Desegregation: Louisiana and Mississippi, (Washington, DC: National Education Association, November 1970), 28.

(9.) Dr. Fenton Peters, interview by author, Starkville, MS.

(10.) This pairing of schools to achieve desegregation was referred to as the Princeton Plan.

(11.) Ken Clawson, “MS County Integrates Reluctantly,” Washington Post, August 25, 1970.

(12.) Sid Salter, interview by author, Starkville, MS.

(13.) Larry Van Dyke, interview by author, Meridian, MS.

(14.) Lewis Lord, “Like Watching Something Wonderful Die, Students Say of Total Integration Move,” Meridian Star (Meridian, MS), January 11, 1970.

(15.) Galen Drewry, “The Principal Faces Desegregation,” Educational Leadership (October 1955): 17.

(16.) “Public School Notice: Starkville Municipal Separate School District,” Starkville Daily News, September 9, 1970.

(17.) “Statement of Policy: Vicksburg Public Schools,” Vicksburg Post (Vicksburg, MS), September 3, 1970.

(18.) Dale Findley and Henry O’Reilly, “Secondary School Discipline,” American Secondary Education 2, no. 1 (December 1971): 26–31.

(19.) George Dale, interview by author, Jackson, MS.

(20.) Charles George, interview by author, Webb, MS.

(21.) Dr. Larry Box, interview by author, Starkville, MS.

(22.) “Judge Orders Students Readmitted in Hair Case,” Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, MS), February 16, 1970; “Riverside Students Sue for Hair Right,” Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS), February 13, 1970; “Judge Keady OKs Hair at Riverside,” Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS), February 17, 1970 ; Bob Boyd, “Coleman Youth Suspended,” Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, MS), March 16, 1970.

(23.) Gael Graham, Young Activists: American High School Students in the Age of Protest (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2006), 82–95.

(24.) Frederick Rodgers, The Black High School and Its Community (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1967), 16. See also Linda Tillman, “African American Principalship and the Legacy of Brown,” Review of Research in Education, 28 (2004): 101–46; Vanessa Siddle Walker, “The Architects of Black Schooling in the Segregated South: The Case of One (p.248) Principal Leader,” Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 19, no. 1 (2003): 54–72; Vanessa Siddle Walker, “Valued Segregated Schools for African American Children in the South, 1935–1969: A Review of Common Themes and Characteristics,” Review of Educational Research 70, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 253–85.

(25.) Chesler, Crowfoot, and Bryant. 193–94; Adam Fairclough, “The Costs of Brown: Black Teachers and School Integration,” Journal of American History 91, no. 1 (June 2004): 43–55; Michael Fultz, “The Displacement of Black Educators Post-Brown: An Overview and Analysis,” History of Education Quarterly 44, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 11–45; Willard Gandy, “Implications of Integration for the Southern Teacher,” Journal of Negro Education 31, no. 2 (Spring 1962): 191–97: James Haney, “The Effects of the Brown Decision on Black Educators,” Journal of Negro Education 47, no. 1 (Winter 1978): 88–95; Robert Hooker, “Displacement of Black Teachers in the Eleven Southern States,” Afro-American Studies 2 (December 1971): 165–80.

(27.) Ibid., 8–14.

(28.) Ted Simmons, “Wholesale Desegregation of Southern Schools Set,” Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS), August 23, 1970.

(32.) Cousin v. Board of Trustees of Houston Municipal Separate School District, 726 F. 2d 262 (5th Cir. 1984).

(33.) Luther Munford. “Black Gravity: Desegregation in 30 Mississippi School Districts.” (senior thesis, Princeton University, 1971), 160–63.

(34.) Casey Banas, “Seek to Avoid School Order in Mississippi,” Chicago Tribune, November 4, 1969.

(35.) Dr. Charles Nash, interview by author, Tuscaloosa, AL.

(36.) See chapter, 3, for a discussion of McComb in the early 1960s.