The Effects of Brown vs. The Board of Education in Montgomery County


Montgomery Blair High School



Postcard of Montgomery Blair High School, date unknown

Montgomery Blair High School, originally the Takoma Park-Silver Spring High School, opened its Wayne Avenue building in 1934.  Twenty-five black students enrolled at Blair in the fall of 1955.   In 1960, the Washington Star used Blair’s first desegregated graduating class as an example of integration’s success. 


By 1971, along with many schools around the country, Blair was suffering a number of ills.  High school students across the nation were questioning authority, exploring students’ rights, and refusing to attend classes.  Several down-county schools, the Washington Post reported, were suffering from this kind of rebellion, but Blair was also in the throes of “growing racial unrest.”   “Though Blair is still almost 90 per cent white,” the Post stated, “the number of black students has more than tripled over the past two years,” going from 80 (out of 2,300) pupils in September of 1968 to over 260 at the start of the 1971 school year.  The population of the lower part of the county was beginning to change; the white residents were getting older, with fewer children in school, and younger African American, Latino and Asian families were moving in.           


By 1982, Blair’s enrollment was down, but the percentage of minority students had exceeded the School Board’s “acceptable” level of 60%.  Rather than close the school altogether, in 1985 a math and science Magnet program was put into the school, which would draw gifted-and-talented students from all over the county, and hopefully thus redress the “racial imbalance.” 


By the early 1990s, Blair was considered the most ethnically diverse school in Montgomery County.  For many students, this was considered a point of pride.  Although some educational theories discredit the effectiveness of Magnet programs, and indeed the new system of consortium programs in MCPS down-county schools supersedes the Magnet to a certain extent, Blair is still one of the most diverse (and largest) schools in the county.



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