The Effects of Brown vs. The Board of Education in Montgomery County
One Year Later
Headlines from a series of articles in the Sentinel by Dorothy B. Waleski, June, 1956.
Waleski’s articles address, from a white point of view, the issues faced by MCPS during the first year of integration. She notes that the fears of anti-integrationists (and many cautious pro-integrationists) did not come true: scholastic standards were not compromised, diseases did not spread through the student body, and violence did not erupt. Although she did find instances of reluctance and resistance, she concluded that most of these arose from misunderstanding, and were soon resolved. Perhaps most tellingly, the author points out the surprise with which some white residents greeted the discovery of the poverty many African American communities lived in.
When the River Road black school was closed in the fall of 1955, Clara Barton Elementary School, in Cabin John, took in the highest percentage of new black students of any elementary in the county. An evaluation of the year, made in the spring of 1956, showed that the process had taken place with relative ease. The teachers cited many reasons for this smooth transition. Both teachers from River Road were transferred to Clara Barton along with their students, and the high number of new pupils meant that at least two River Road students were in each class, preventing too many feelings of isolation. As in many other newly integrated schools, the modern teaching environment allowed the black students to quickly catch up academically with their white peers. In addition, the principal reported, “economically, Clara Barton was integrated for a considerable length of time” before 1955. Many people felt that the problems and misunderstandings of integration stemmed as much from economic segregation as it did from separation of races.
River Road School, Bethesda, 1942.
Clara Barton Elementary School.