The Effects of Brown vs. The Board of Education in Montgomery County
The Supreme Court made its historic, unanimous decision, outlawing segregation in public schools, on May 17, 1954. A year later, on May 31, 1955, the Court added its second unanimous opinion on the case, with further details, including the edict that all school districts proceed with desegregation with due speed. Maryland’s speed differed greatly by region. Baltimore City had already begun planning for desegregation before the Brown vs. Board of Ed decision was made. Some southern counties took over ten years to fully implement integration. In Montgomery County, public reaction was mixed. With some factions insisting that integration take place fully and immediately, and others demanding that the process be slow and cautious, the Board of Education decided to analyze the situation – in other words, to wait.
In June of 1955, the Maryland Attorney General declared that all legal obstacles to desegregation had indeed been removed. As its first step, the Montgomery County Board of Education appointed a nineteen member advisory committee on integration. Eight of its members were black, including Parlett Moore, the principal of Lincoln High School, and Noah E. Clarke, one of the United Trustees who had helped start the first secondary schools. Both the Board and the Committee were divided on the speed with which integration should take place. Some members of the (all white) Board seemed willing to stall integration into oblivion; it was suggested that the process take place one grade at a time, with one year in between for evaluation. Board member Rose Kramer, pointing out that this would take a ridiculous 24 years, was able to put an end to this plan. The Committee majority recommended gradualism, but three minority reports (in addition to several white and black school PTA group resolutions) urged a full and immediate integration. Gradualism won.
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