Schools in Jackson, Mississippi struggle to integrate successfully. Many white students leave to attend private schools.
Jackson, Mississippi: 25 Years After Brown v. Board of Education
BOB JIMENEZ: In Jackson, Mississippi, 25 years after the Brown decision, most people accept school integration, and they are making it work. A federal court ordered integration here nine years ago, and 10,000 white students fled to private schools. But school administrators and business leaders realized that as the schools went, so did economic growth. So, they encouraged acceptance. A bi-racial school administration was set up, school districts were re-zoned and busing was reduced.
Its still not perfect, more than two thirds of the school population is black, but many schools come close to a 50 percent racial mix, an acceptable gain say educators, and there are almost as many black teachers as white.
When integration took hold in Jackson, segregation academies flourished. But, because whites have returned to the public schools, many private academies like this one have closed. 18-year-old Laura Lake is a senior at Calloway High. When her family moved here seven years ago, they put her in a private school because they were told an integrated school system wouldnt work. But Laura is in public school now, and her parents say theyre pleased.
JO LAKE: Well of course we had no complete assurance that it was going to work out. I did know that many students were going back, and talking with parents, they were pleased, they said their children were pleased, and we just decided that wed take the chance, you know, because we seemed to be getting, you know, positive things from everybody.
JIMENEZ: Many say school integration in Jackson has worked because blacks and whites worked together, and its acceptance came when white families like the Lakes took a chance, and are now telling others to do the same. Bob Jimenez, NBC News, Jackson, Mississippi.
During the first half of the 20th century, the United States existed as two nations in one.
The Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 decreed that the legislation of two separate societies — one black and one white — was permitted as long as the two were equal.