Education

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Even after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) mandated the integration of schools, the city of Fort Worth found ways to resist integration.

Bob Ray Sanders recounts the nature of school integration in Fort Worth:

“I was in the first grade when the Supreme Court declared Brown vs. board of education. I still went through 11 more years of a segregated education because Fort Worth fought it. There was one high school in Fort Worth for black people prior to brown that was the historic I Am Terrell, which goes back to 1882 the school for blacks. What the board of education tried to do to get around brown was to build three new black high schools, so they started that year adding a grade a year to the three black junior high schools until 1957 there were four black high schools. That is how they did it; school integration did not really start here. There strategy in 1962 was what they called a stair step plan where they were going to integrate every year beginning with the second grade being the last one integrated for twelve years, by 1966 they decided to integrate all the schools and take down all the barriers, but the schools still remained segregated as they do today.”

– Bob Ray Sanders

It is also apparent that Fort Worth interpreted school integration as a means to close the traditionally black schools and make those students integrate white schools, thus putting the burden of integration on black students rather than dividing it up among everyone.

“School integration was part of it, they could have done that if they just would have said go to the school closest to your house. They kept redrawing lines and really manipulated it and the ironic thing was that they created three black high schools to avoid integration. In their minds to impose integration they closed three black high schools including I.M. Terrell which should have never have happened. In their minds integration was not white kids going to a school that was predominately black but blacks going to predominantly white schools; the burden of integration was still put on black people, and they took the best most experienced black teachers and put them in predominately white schools and then put the most inexperienced white teachers in those predominately black schools and that was an insidious thing that they did but with all of that baggage school integration was a big deal.”

– Bob Ray Sanders

As late as 1968, the Fort Worth school district was still trying to figure out how to properly desegregate schools.  Ultimately Fort Worth, like many communities across the South, did not completely integrate schools until the early 1970s, more than 15 years after Brown v. Board of Education decision.

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