After Brown: School Desegregation in Florida - Part Two
9: Southern Education Report Describes Pace on Desegregation
In the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, most southern states, including Florida, delayed in implementing the desegregation of schools. As part of its attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court decision, Florida passed a Pupil Placement Law that gave authority and discretion to local school boards and superintendents in determining the school in which a child would be placed. In Tampa, 78 applications for school transfers under the Pupil Placement Law were received from black students. The School Board rejected all 78 applications on August 2, 1960. Dade County was the only region in Florida that made strides toward desegregation. In North Miami Beach, two black children were placed in schools that had been primarily white.
10: Robert Saunders, Jr Integrates West Tampa Junior High
This document is a class photo taken in 1966 at West Tampa Junior High School. This class, which included one black student – Robert Saunders, Jr. – was the first integrated class at West Tampa Junior High. Saunders was the son of Robert Saunders, Sr., Tampa resident and field director of the Florida NAACP. Though the act of integration is significant, it is also worth noting that the desegregation of West Tampa Junior High did not occur until 1966, twelve years after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. As such, this photo offers a reminder of the sluggish pace of school desegregation in Tampa.
11: Hillsborough County Education Committee Recommendations, 1976
In 1976, representatives of the black community in Hillsborough County published recommendations designed to expedite the integration of county schools. The committee insisted that Hillsborough County had a duty to provide education for all students in a desegregated and non-discriminatory manner. The document offered several suggestions, including a revised teacher evaluation form, which would measure a teacher’s ability to professionally and humanely work with students of different backgrounds. Another recommendation was for special courses in black history and ethnic studies. A third suggestion was the formation of a review board to oversee suspensions and expulsions. The committee also asked the county to increase the number of black employees in all levels of administration. Two decades after the 1954 Brown decision, integration remained more a promise than a reality in Hillsborough County. Despite federal action on school desegregation and Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s, implementation at the local level proved extraordinarily challenging.
12: NCES Report on Integration at Florida Universities, 1980
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiled a list of data of African American students enrolled in institutions of higher learning in Florida from 1977 to 1980. The data included African American students that were enrolled in primarily white institutions, as well as those that were enrolled in Florida A&M University, a historically black university. FAMU was the center for black higher education, accounting for 45.2% of black students enrolled in the State University System (SUS) in 1977. By 1977, more than two decades aftr Brown, the pace of school integration remained relatively slow. At the state universities other than FAMU, black students accounted for only 10.4% of students.