Racial Injustice: A History of the Segregated School System in Jackson, Mississippi

Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Lakes

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert O. Michael

Third Advisor

Dr. Jodi Kaufmann

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Winfred Pitts


This dissertation explored the history of segregated schools in Jackson, Mississippi, particularly the efforts to desegregate the Jackson Separate School District in the 1960s. Beginning with the first publicly funded school for black students in 1867, the schools in Jackson were part of a segregated, dual system. Using the critical lens of systemic racism to examine the establishment and maintenance of the dual system in Jackson aids in understanding how the school district moved from segregation to desegregation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Barriers to equity in the Jackson public schools with regard to access, facilities, and instruction continued to exist in the late 1960s in spite of court orders in Brown I and Brown II. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both of which had been catalysts for desegregation in some areas of the Deep South, did not have as much influence in Mississippi. Cloaked resistance to desegregation in Jackson took the form of choice plans and the establishment of private schools through the White Citizens Council. In spite of the determination of the courts that freedom-of-choice plans were not acceptable methods of desegregating schools, for instance in Greene v. County School Board of New Kent County in 1967, educational and legislative leaders continued to push for the allowance of choice plans as the sole method of desegregation in Jackson. Aggressive action to achieve desegregation in Jackson occurred after the court decision in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education in late 1969. At this point in time, community and education leaders worked together to create a plan that would be accepted by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Consequently, the schools were most racially balanced in the early to mid-1970s; however, they became virtually a single race system by the late 1990s and early 2000s. The resegregation of schools due to massive withdrawal of whites from public schools and the lack of equity in education are addressed in the conclusion.



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