Monday, February 15, 2016

Segregation in Dallas ISD

The current debates regarding the name of John B. Hood Middle School in Dallas ISD provide a priceless time for the students to both explore history and be actively involved in the decision making process.

DISD students need to study this issue more before they make any recommendation to the school board.  A super-majority of 80+% agreement among students should be required before there is any recommendations due to the importance of such a decision. This is an issue that should be a normal topic in History classes every year, and voted on until that level of agreement is secured one way or the other.

Until then do not change any of the names on our schools.  Why are we in a rush?  This is a priceless learning experience.  Based on the debate online, it will be a discussion that is of value to the entire city of Dallas!

Students must demonstrate a good understanding of both when "Jim Crow Laws" were thriving in the south, why they existed, and their relationship to what is called the Great Migration.

Jim Crow Laws required and reinforced segregation throughout the South.  They were born after 1877 when Reconstruction ended after the Civil War. They ultimately helped create part of the conditions that drove the Great Migration from 1910 to 1970.  That is when an estimated 6 million African Americans moved north to both escape such laws and find better economic opportunity. It was two generations after slavery before the ability and motivation for such moves was common enough for the victims of Jim Crow to escape the South.

It was in 1909 that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded. The name of that organization does not appear in the Dallas Morning News Archives until 1913, and does not appear again until 1923.  Then it begins to appear almost annually in the 1930's.  By 1940 there had been a total of  9 mentions of the NAACP in the Dallas Morning News. Within just 5 years that number was up to 22. By 1950 the work of the NAACP was being reported in the Morning News almost monthly. From 1945 to 1950 there had been 55 more mentions of the NAACP!   By 1955 there were several articles each month as work toward integration accelerated.

While few Confederate names existed on school buildings anywhere in the US before 1920, by the 1930's they became much more common.  The first in Dallas was Robert E. Lee Elementary in 1931, then Stonewall Jackson in 1939.  In 1954 Albert Sidney Johnson was named and the next year John B. Hood Jr. High was named.  Do you think these selected names are related to the growth in visibility of the issues reflected in the NAACP being mentioned in news articles and in the push to racial integration?

In Dallas the White school board reflected the White community that overwhelmingly did not want schools to be integrated. The battle for equal rights heated up leading to the 1954 decision declaring "separate but equal" unconstitutional.  While many states had integrated schools by 1971, Dallas did not achieve that status until 1976.  Dallas holds the sad status of being the last major U.S. city to integrate public schools.  Many valid questions remain as to integration that was achieved.

Did the political climate 22 years after the founding of the NAACP, and the increasing mentions of the NAACP in the Dallas Morning News, have nothing to do with the sudden naming by the White Dallas School Board of a new school in Dallas after a Confederate War hero over 65 years after the Civil War?

The chart below reflects the magnitude of the Great Migration happening from 1910 to 1970.

The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North
Jim Crow laws were gradually weakened with Supreme Court decisions.  Finally the Voting Rights Act of 1965 legally ended their power.  But enforcement was slow.  It was not until 1971 the full integration of public schools was becoming normal and arrived in most urban areas.  Sadly, Dallas ISD was not fully integrated until 1976.  The chart below documents the horror of White flight as this process was happening in Dallas ISD. Notice how the numbers of White students leaving jumped in 1975 and 1976 as the final years before integration of public schools were happening in Dallas ISD.  White flight continued for another 32 years after 1976 with gradually decreasing numbers.
Dallas ISD enrollment by racial group, 1970 to 2015

In 1970 DISD was a school system with over 164,000 students, 95,000 of whom were White. DISD has never had a total enrollment that large since, and White Flight led to the current White enrollment of less than 7,500, a disproportionately high percentage of whom are attending the magnet schools, some of the best schools in the nation.
Notice above that the "Great Migration" ended with the legal integration of public schools across the South, most of which happened by 1970, except for Dallas ISD where it happened in 1976.  See the Dallas desegregation timeline as documented in the Dallas Morning News. 

News articles since 2-4-16 with hundreds of comments:
Hundreds of comments have been made over the past week online as the Confederate School Name/Rename debate waged in Dallas.  It followed the two initial articles in the Dallas Morning News, the one about the planned vote in the middle school on the name, then on the results of that vote.  Multiple comments also followed an opinion piece, an editorial supporting the name changes, and many letters to the editor that were published this past Sunday.
Too many of those commenting to the above articles posted the idea that the major reason for the Civil War was not slavery.  That is not true for Texas for a multitude of reasons that are often covered in articles such as this one from the Texas Observer.     Part of that documentation is in the Declaration of Causes written and approved by Texas leaders for entry into the Civil War:

Here is a link to the full Declaration of Causes document for Texas.
Similar statements exist for most states entering the Civil War against the North.  Several of them are linked here.
From the Texas Declaration of Causes 02-02-1861

Dallas ISD must not waste this priceless learning opportunity for DISD students.
Dallas continues to be the center of a very segregated area of the US where progress has been slow. DFW media provides ample evidence of the segregation:

Normal advertisement 2-16-14 in Dallas Morning News