On this dayNov 26, 1957

Texas Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Governor to Close Schools Rather Than Integrate

On November 26, 1957, during a special legislative session called to pass segregation laws, the Texas legislature voted overwhelmingly (115-26) to pass a bill giving Governor Price Daniel the power to immediately close any school where federal troops might be sent to enforce integration.

The Texas legislature passed the bill just a few months after President Dwight Eisenhower deployed federal troops to Arkansas and commanded the Arkansas National Guard to escort nine Black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, to their first day of school at Central High School amid violent threats from white community members. In passing this bill, the state legislators made clear that they would rather everyone at a school be denied education than allow Black students to attend previously all-white schools.

During the same session another bill was passed that provided school districts with legal aid should integration suits be brought against them.

Bills like these, and the broader massive resistance to integration by white officials and community members, were largely successful in preventing integration of schools in the South. In the five Deep South states, every single one of 1.4 million Black school children attended segregated schools until the fall of 1960. By the start of the 1964-65 school year, less than 3% of the South’s Black children attended school with white students, and in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina that number remained substantially below 1%. In 1967, 13 years after Brown v. Bd. of Education, a report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights observed that white violence and intimidation against Black people “continues to be a deterrent to school desegregation.”

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