The Slow Undoing
176 pages
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176 pages
English

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A study of how South Carolina's federal district courts were central to achieving and solidifying gains during the civil rights moment

As the first comprehensive study of one state's federal district courts during the long civil rights movement, The Slow Undoing argues for a reconsideration of the role of the federal courts in the civil rights movement. It places the courts as a central battleground at the intersections of struggles over race, law, and civil rights. During the long civil rights movement, Black and White South Carolinians used the courts as a venue to contest the meanings of the constitution, justice, equality, and citizenship.

African American plaintiffs and lawyers from South Carolina, with the support of Thurgood Marshall and other lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, brought and argued civil rights lawsuits in South Carolina's federal courts attempting to secure the vote, raise teacher salaries, and to equalize and then desegregate schools, parks, and public life. In response, white citizens, state politicians, and local officials, hired their own lawyers who countered these arguments by crafting new legal theories in an attempt to defend state practices and thwart African American aspirations of equality and to preserve white supremacy.

The Slow Undoing argues for a reconsideration of the role of federal courts in the civil rights movement by demonstrating that both before and after Brown v. Board of Education, the federal district courts were centrally important to achieving and solidifying civil rights gains. It relies on the entire legal record of actions in the federal district courts of South Carolina from 1940 to 1970 to make the case. It argues that rather than relying on litigation during the pre-Brown era and direct action in the post-Brown era, African Americans instead used courts and direct action in tandem to bring down legal segregation throughout the long civil rights era. But the process was far from linear and the courts were not always a progressive force. The battles were long, the victories won were often imperfect, and many of the fights remain. Author Stephen H. Lowe offers a chronicle of this enduring struggle.


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Publié par
Date de parution 02 juin 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781643361772
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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THE SLOW UNDOING
Stephen H. Lowe
THE SLOW UNDOING
The Federal Courts and the Long Struggle for Civil Rights in South Carolina
2021 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press Columbia, South Carolina 29208
www.uscpress.com
Manufactured in the United States of America
30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at http://catalog.loc.gov/ .
ISBN 978-1-64336-176-5 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-64336-205-2 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-64336-177-2 (ebook)
Portions of chapters six and seven appeared, in different form, as Stephen H. Lowe, White Subversion of Public School Desegregation in South Carolina, 1963-1970, American Journal of Legal History 60 (June 2020): 223-246. Those portions are reprinted here with permission.
To Carmen, Bonnie, and Mattie
CONTENTS
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
CHAPTER 1. This Couldn t Have Been Ignorance : Challenging the White Primary in the 1940s
CHAPTER 2. Not Equal, but Still Separate: Challenging Jim Crow Education in the 1940s
CHAPTER 3. Unexampled Courage : School Desegregation in the 1950s
CHAPTER 4. Plessy Has Not Been Overturned : Law and Resistance in the Late 1950s
CHAPTER 5. We Don t Allow Colored People in Here : Segregation to Integration with Dignity, 1959-63
CHAPTER 6. We Have Not Yet Run Out of Courts : Desegregation in the mid-1960s
CHAPTER 7. We ve Run Out of Courts, and We ve Run Out of Time : Freedom of Choice and School Desegregation to 1970
CHAPTER 8. Desegregation, Not Integration: South Carolina Since 1968
Abbreviations
Notes
Bibliography
Index
ILLUSTRATIONS
FIG. 1
Judge J. Waties Waring
FIG. 2
Pearl Shirer
FIG. 3
Senator L. Marion Gressette
FIG. 4
J. Arthur Brown
FIG. 5
Elloree Training School Teachers
FIG. 6
Judge George Bell Timmerman Sr. and Robert M. Cooper
FIG. 7
J. Arthur Brown, Matthew J. Perry, Lincoln Jenkins, and Hemphill Pride II
FIG. 8
Judge Cecil C. Wyche
FIG. 9
Mathew J. Perry and Henrie Monteith
FIG. 10
Lurma Rackley and Gloria Rackley Blackwell
FIG. 11
Judge Robert W. Hemphill
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Authors inevitably amass debts-always personal, frequently financial-in the course of writing. In my case, those debts have been amassed across nearly thirty years of research and writing. Through multiple drafts and several earlier articles, this book represents the culmination of work that started as a doctoral proposal in the fall of 1990 and became my dissertation in 1999. I owe my fellow students at Michigan State University s graduate program from 1990 to 1996 a degree of gratitude for their encouragement and comradeship. I also thank the faculty of the program as well, especially my doctoral adviser, Barbara Steidle, along with my dissertation committee members, the late David Bailey, Victor Jew, Gordon Stewart, and Stephen Esquith. My thanks also extend to other members of the Michigan State history faculty, particularly Darlene Clark Hine, Wilma King, Sam Thomas, Emily Tabuteau, the late Morgan Sweeney, and the late Harry Reed.
Before Michigan State, I was in a master s degree program at Clemson University, where I not only had the pleasure of working with a wonderful group of faculty members and fellow graduate students but also met my wife, about whom I will write more below. I especially want to mention Alan Schaffer, my MA thesis adviser. He is still missed. Also on my MA committee were Alan Grubb and the late Bill Steirer. My thanks to them and to the other members of the Clemson history faculty, including Beth Carney and Don McKale. I also want to thank Theda Perdue, formerly of Clemson, and Bill Hine, formerly of South Carolina State, for their help and encouragement.
While working on the dissertation, I received a grant from the South Carolina Bar Foundation to do research at the National Archives in Atlanta. That grant was timely and helpful, enabling the last bit of research for the dissertation. Of course, a lot more research had to be done to transform an adequate dissertation into a publishable book. Too many archivists and librarians to even mention helped locate sources and provided assistance and a timely article or document when I was unable to make it to the source. To the staffs of the Clemson Special Collections, the South Caroliniana Library, the National Archives depositories in Atlanta, College Park, and Philadelphia, and the Moorland-Spingarn Library at Howard University, I offer my sincere gratitude.
Parts of the book were published earlier as articles in the Avery Review , the Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association , and the American Journal of Legal History . To those editors and anonymous reviewers, as well as the reviewers of the manuscript, I owe thanks for improving my work immeasurably.
My father, the late Harold B. Lowe, gave me financial assistance and good advice, not often taken, throughout graduate school and well into my postgraduate years. His love for me and my family was deep and abiding. I appreciate him more now than I ever did then.
Before I finished my dissertation, my wife and I welcomed two children into the world-Bonnie, born in 1995 while we were still in Michigan, and Mattie, born in 1998 in South Carolina. They are now grown women, and while the world has not taken the form I would have liked (or anticipated) when they were born, they are working to change it for the better.
Finally my wife, Carmen Harris, a better historian than I by far, edited the manuscript more times than I can count, offered innumerable suggestions for improving my writing, did research when I was not able to, found sources both obscure and meaningful, and encouraged me throughout the long process of getting this work to print. For these reasons and too many others to count, I owe her a debt that can never be repaid. Much of what has made this book worthwhile is due to her. Any errors of fact or judgment are, of course, solely my own.
To Carmen, and to our daughters, Bonnie and Mattie, this book is lovingly dedicated.
INTRODUCTION
This book is a history of civil rights cases African Americans filed in federal district courts in South Carolina, their connection to civil rights activism, and the reaction of White officials and citizens of South Carolina to African American initiative. It contributes to an increasing body of scholarship that argues that despite a relative lack of violence, substantial high-profile Black activism, and White resistance, developments in South Carolina are significant to understanding the unfolding struggles of the long civil rights movement. 1 The role of the federal district courts is another little-studied aspect of the civil rights movement. 2 This work is the first comprehensive study of legal action in a single state beginning in the mid-1930s, when Charles Hamilton Houston established the legal framework for the assault on segregation through the post- Brown era. Houston s aim was to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson , which underpinned White supremacy. The legal aspects of the civil rights movement include efforts by White people to use the federal district courts to maintain control prior to and well after Brown v. Board of Education . These actions demonstrate the importance of litigation as a consequential component of the broader civil rights struggle.
Much of the narrative of the civil rights movement focuses on direct action by African Americans from 1955 through the 1960s. This approach privileges confrontation and certain geographical locations and actors while marginalizing others. Most direct action began or became sustained only after systematic litigation to undermine Plessy had succeeded in the Supreme Court but failed to be implemented by federal district courts that were charged with supervision. As the work of both J. W. Peltason and Charles V. Hamilton show, local context influenced many federal district judges to subvert the significance of national rulings. Post- Brown direct-action protesters who were arrested or otherwise faced retaliation for civil disobedience added to the caseload of civil rights attorneys, who were using the new jurisprudence to secure favorable rulings to dismantle the structure of segregation issue by issue. It is for these reasons that this work places the district courts as a central intersection of race, law, and civil rights in the Black freedom struggle.
I argue for a reconsideration of the role of federal courts in the civil rights movement by demonstrating that both pre- and post- Brown , federal district courts were centrally important to achieving and solidifying civil rights gains. It relies on the entire legal record of actions in the federal district courts of South Carolina from 1940 to 1970 to make the case. It argues that rather than relying on litigation during the pre- Brown era and direct action in the post- Brown era, African Americans used courts and direct action in tandem to bring down legal segregation throughout the long civil rights era.
The focus is principally on two groups of people. One was a group of Black South Carolinians who-with the help of the NAACP-brought and argued cases in the federal district courts to assert their civil rights and eventually put an end to de jure segregation. Opposing them was a group of White South Carolinians, including politicians and other officials, who struggled equally hard in the courts to prevent or delay equality for all. With the exception of the brief interregnum of Radical Reconstruction, White supremacy had control

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