Reflections on Urban Segregation, the Courts, and Equal Opportunity
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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I. To Speak against Segregation
Chapter 1. Black Voices in White America: The Dayton School Case, November, 1972
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At the age of seventy-five Ella Taylor Lowrey rose with all her considerable wit and will to testify against the segregation of the Dayton, Ohio, public schools. The courtroom was filled with the conscience and aspiring spirit of a largely black audience. Mrs. Lowrey's step was quick, her resolve firm, and her voice clear. Many others had stood up before. She was ready now. ...
II. "Our Troubled Times Demand Such Sacrifices": The Detroit School Case, 1970–74
Chapter 2. The NAACP Challenge to Segregation
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Jones was born in 1926 in Youngstown, Ohio, to parents who had moved from Big Island, Virginia, in the hope that their children could have the educational opportunities they had missed. His father's formal schooling stopped in the fourth grade of a ramshackle, one-room "colored school"...
Chapter 3. The Trial of Judge Roth, April to September, 1971
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At the start of the trial, Judge Roth took one last swipe at the NAACP counsel when defense attorneys complained about the swift pace of preparation for hearing such a complex case: "Mr. Lucas has kept me and everybody busy going to Cincinnati [the site of the Sixth Circuit]. I've been concerned with that. . . . But the Court of Appeals has issued an order. I abide by it as any...
Chapter 4. Metropolitan Conversion in the Lower Courts, October, 1971, to June, 1973
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The September 27, 1971, ruling on Detroit public school segregation came as a shock to most of the people of Detroit and the rest of Michigan. The media, with the exception of Bill Grant, had failed to cover the case in any depth. As a result, the public was unprepared. The Detroit News issued an editorial calling the ruling ''unreasonable.'' The white neighborhood papers in the city...
Chapter 5. The Detroit Case in the Supreme Court, June, 1973, to July, 1974
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Nate Jones believed that the Supreme Court would review the Detroit case in order to resolve the four-to-four split in the Richmond case. He feared, however, that another landmark issue would have to be decided at the same time as the metropolitan issue: What is the legal standard for judging the constitutionality of school segregation within Northern school districts where dual...
III. "Avoiding an Education": The First Round in the Dayton School Case, July, 1972, to June, 1977
Chapter 6. The Trial of Judge Rubin, July, 1972, to December, 1972
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The NAACP local branches and general counsel Nate Jones had not limited their challenge to school segregation in Michigan to Benton Harbor, Pontiac, and Detroit. Cases also emerged in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. Except in the Grand Rapids case, the NAACP eventually prevailed in the lower courts in showing that the school segregation within these districts...
Chapter 7. The Skirmishes between the Sixth Circuit and Judge Rubin, January, 1973, to September, 1976
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As 1973 opened without an opinion, Judge Rubin's promise of second semester relief if he found a constitutional violation lapsed. His refusal to hear the state responsibility and metropolitan issues and his limitation of proof of intent, community discrimination, and the interaction between school and housing segregation gave additional warning that Judge Rubin was not...
Chapter 8. The Supreme Court Sounds Retreat, December, 1976, to June, 1977
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By the end of November, 1976, I was becoming concerned. Judge Rubin had scheduled a hearing on the board's motion against the state for financial assistance and asked that plaintiffs present their fee application at the same time. The date for the hearing approached, however, without the expected denial of review by the Supreme Court. I suggested to Dave Greer that we...
IV. Standing and Waiting: The Floundering of the Legal Challenges to Housing Segregation in the 1970s
Chapter 9. Open Housing, Closed Court, 1970–79
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Nate Jones described the legal and political situation after the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dayton case in the summer of 1977: "We're in the trenches just fighting to survive. At issue is whether we can even keep the Second Reconstruction alive." Jones and the school segregation cases were not alone in that trench. Program initiatives and legal challenges seeking to...
Chapter 10. Waiting for Gautreaux: The Chicago Public Housing Case, 1950–79
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In 1950 Dorothy Gautreaux filed a tenant application with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) because she was, in her own words, "in desperate need of housing." Aware of CHA's policy forbidding her family from living in any project in a white neighborhood because they were black, she agreed to live anywhere to escape the one bedroom her family of three shared with relatives. ...
V. The Lower Courts Answer the Supreme Court's Call to Retreat, 1976–78
Chapter 11. Judge Duncan's Trial of the Columbus School Case, April, 1976, to October, 1977
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On April 20, 1976, district judge Robert Duncan instructed plaintiffs to call their first witness. Helen Jenkins Davis stepped forward to take the stand in the Columbus, Ohio, school case. She was eighty-one years old. Davis was the first witness in the trial that would, eventually, test the Supreme Court's view of segregation yet one more time before the end of the decade. ...
Chapter 12. The Sixth Circuit on Trial: The Columbus and Dayton School Cases on Appeal, June, 1977, to July, 1978
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Judge Rubin read the news of the Supreme Court's June 27, 1977, ruling in Dayton not only as a call to retreat but an invitation to scuttle the desegregation plan that had gone into effect the year before. He immediately convened a conference call among counsel to schedule a hearing to ascertain whether plaintiffs had any additional evidence. Lucas received the call at his home in...
VI. Reprise and Preview: The Wilmington School Case, 1971–78
Chapter 13. Trial by Three Judges, 1971–75
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The Sixth Circuit did not stand alone in rejecting the call to retreat sounded by Justice Rehnquist's opinion for the Supreme Court in the first round of the Dayton case. Four other federal courts of appeals—the Second, Third, Fifth, and Eighth Circuits—examined the issue of whether the "incremental segregative effect" conundrum legitimized all school segregation at the current...
Chapter 14. The Interdistrict Remedy, 1976–78
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The road to cross-district desegregation in the Wilmington area would prove long and rough. The three-judge court received city-only plans and interdistrict proposals ranging from "free transfers" and "magnet schools" between existing districts to countywide consolidation. The Wilmington board proposed actual desegregation by clustering schools as originally suggested...
VII. The Supreme Court and the School Desegregation Cases, 1978–80
Chapter 15. The Briefs and Arguments in the Supreme Court
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While schools in Columbus and the Wilmington area were finally poised to begin actual desegregation in September, 1978, the Dayton, Columbus, and Wilmington cases were coming up for final review by the Supreme Court. On August 1, 1978, the Columbus Board of Education had filed an application for delay of school desegregation with Potter Stewart, the justice responsible for...
Chapter 16. The Decisions from the Supreme Court, 1979–80
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There was nothing to do but wait. The members of the Court usually cast their votes on a case at the first conference following argument, but the results of such conferences rarely leaked out. We had no idea how the justices had voted, who had been assigned to write the majority decision, or what other cases and legal challenges might be affected. The only certainty was that the..
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The preceding chapters have attempted to tell a story of the school and housing segregation cases of the 1970s from the inside as they happened. In this sense, the book may offer a limited perspective because it portrays the apparent certitude of one side in the midst of a complex, adversary struggle. Yet the narrative avoids the false certainty that many pundits seem to find with...
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The Supreme Court's bitterly contested 5-4 ruling in the Detroit school case in July of 1974 effectively curbed any claim that racial ghettoization in urban America created a caste color line in violation of the Constitution. In the oral arguments before the Court in February, 1974, Michigan attorney general Frank Kelley claimed that this was "a classic case of a remedy in search of a...
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A stagnating economy leaves most boats struggling, with those in the backwaters suffering the most. From 1973 through the early 1990s family incomes stagnated in the United States as growth in national productivity fell to just over 1 percent per year, less than half the annual increase from 1946 through 1972. Most economists predicted that such slow growth was the inevitable fate...
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Table of Principal Cases
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Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2005