The Broken Promise
"Histories, like ancient ruins, are the fictions of empires. While everything forgotten hands in dark dreams of the past, ever threatening to return...”, a quote from the movie Velvet Goldmine, expresses the thoughts that many supporters of integration may have felt because no one truly knew the effects that one major verdict could create. The Brown v. Board of Education decision was a very important watershed during the Civil Rights Movement. However, like most progressive decisions, it did not create an effective solution because no time limit was ever given. James Baldwin realized that this major oversight would lead to a “broken promise.”
Therefore, it unanimously decided that all schools should be integrated. The only defective part of the decision was that the Supreme Court did not specify a time frame in which all schools had to be integrated. This major flaw in the verdict allowed southern states to take as much time as they wanted to ‘integrate’ the schools. The article entitled “Text of Supreme Court Decision Outlawing Negro Segregation in the Public Schools” was published in the New York Times on May 18, 1954, the very next day after the decision was made public. This article enlightens the nation on how the judges decided to tackle the question “Does segregation of children in public schools solely, though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal education opportunities?” (“Text”). Each judge had to take into account everything he heard throughout the trials. All of the judges decided that segregation did and does affect the education of minority children.
Not only does segregation affect the education of children, but the resources available to them. In the same article, it also mentions that the Northern states were in fact further advanced in education than the southern states. For example, it says, “[M]any Negroes have achieved outstanding success in arts and sciences as well as in the business and professional world” in the northern states (“Text”). This proves that some of the schools were either already integrated or that the “black” schools had better resources than their southern counterparts. However, the article does state that some of the schools both in the South and the North had horrible conditions, such as un-graded schools and school terms that lasted only three months out of the year (“Text”). Both regions dealt with similar problems that prevented students to succeed in life, no matter what ethnic group they belonged.
The months and years that followed led newspapers to write about the mixed feelings that each state and even cities had about the soon-to-be famous decision that was supposed to change the educational system. During late September of 1954, the New York Times printed a desegregation progress report that at first stated that Southern states were taking steps towards integration and experiencing only a few public problems. The first statement of the article is somewhat misleading because it created the impression that the general public accepted integration. However, the rest of the article does observe that “[i]n most of the South and in many parts of the border-states, desegregation [was] the exception and not the rule” (Ewing). It clearly stated that some officials defiantly boasted that integration would not happen until the Supreme Court issued a decree or a deadline. For example, it was reported that Tennessee refused to allow five “Negro” students into the Memphis State College because “their admission to a white college would violate...