The Decade of School Desegregation – Progress and Prospects

Columbia Law Review 64, no. 2 (February 1964).


It is now nearly a decade since the Supreme Court handed down its first opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, the School Segregation Cases. Southern disaffection to the side, there are abroad in the land, by and large, two sets of attitudes about the events of the decade. One large body of opinion, while avoiding complacency, feels on the whole encouraged by progress achieved, and by prospects for further progress. Another, no doubt smaller, but highly articulate group is outraged by the passage of a decade during which we have witnessed in the South little more than token compliance with the law declared by the Supreme Court; a decade, moreover, which has seen in the country as a whole the merest beginnings of any effort to grapple with the cognate problems of de facto school segregation, de facto housing segregation, and de facto employment discrimination. In the words of the song from which James Baldwin borrowed the title of his famous best-seller, and with all the urgency and all the alarm bordering on despair that those words connote in Baldwin’s usage, many people feel: “No more water, the fire next time!”

Yale Law School