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Determining the Facts

Reading 2: Excerpts from the Supreme Court Decision Green v. County School Board of New Kent County (1968)

--"During the [New Kent County 'freedom-of-choice'] plan's three years of operation [started August 2, 1965] no white student has chosen to attend the all-Negro school, and although 115 Negro pupils enrolled in the formerly all-white school, 85% of the Negro students in the system still attend the all-Negro school."

--"Racial identification of the system's schools was complete, extending not just to the composition of student bodies at the two schools but to every facet of school operations--faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities and facilities. In short, the State, acting through the local school board and school officials, organized and operated a dual system, part 'white' and part 'Negro.'"

--"... what is involved here is the question whether the Board has achieved the 'racially nondiscriminatory school system' Brown II held must be effectuated in order to remedy the established unconstitutional deficiencies of its segregated system."

--"In determining whether respondent School Board met that command by adopting its 'freedom-of-choice' plan, it is relevant that this first step did not come until some 11 years after Brown I was decided and 10 years after Brown II directed the making of a 'prompt and reasonable start.' Such delays are no longer tolerable..."

--"Moreover, a plan that at this late date fails to provide meaningful assurance of prompt and effective disestablishment of a dual system is also intolerable."

--"... the District Court approved the 'freedom-of-choice' plan.... The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ... affirmed the District Court's approval of the 'freedom-of-choice' provisions of the plan but remanded the case to the District Court for entry of an order regarding faculty 'which is much more specific and more comprehensive' ..."

--"The New Kent School Board's 'freedom-of-choice' plan cannot be accepted as a sufficient step to 'effectuate a transition' to a unitary system...no whites have gone to George W. Watkins school and 85% of blacks remain at George W. Watkins school.... In other words, the school system remains a dual system. Rather than further the dismantling of the dual system, the plan has operated simply to burden children and their parents with a responsibility which Brown II placed squarely on the School Board."

--"We do not hold that a 'freedom-of-choice' plan might of itself be unconstitutional, although that argument has been urged upon us."

--"Where a 'freedom-of-choice' plan offers real promise of achieving a unitary, nonracial system there might be no objection to allowing it to prove itself in operation, but where there are reasonably available other ways, such as zoning, promising speedier and more effective conversion to a unitary school system, 'freedom of choice' is not acceptable."

--"... it is evident that here the Board, by separately busing Negro children across the entire county to the 'Negro' school, and the white children to the 'white' school, is deliberately maintaining a segregated system which would vanish with non-racial geographical zoning."

--"The Board must be required to formulate a new plan and, in light of other courses which appear open to the Board, such as zoning, fashion steps which promise realistically to convert promptly to a system without a 'white' school and a 'Negro' school, but just schools."

--"Moreover, whatever plan is adopted will require evaluation in practice, and the court should retain jurisdiction until it is clear that state-imposed segregation has been completely removed."

Questions for Reading 2

1. Under the "freedom-of-choice" plan, what percentage of white students chose to attend the George W. Watkins School?

2. What does the term "dual system" mean?

3. Why did the Supreme Court rule against New Kent County and force it to desegregate its schools immediately?

4. How many years after Brown II did the Green decision take place? Why is that significant? What do you think is the overall historical significance of the Green decision?

5. Why would the federal courts want, or need, to retain jurisdiction over New Kent County's next plan for integration?

Reading 2 was excerpted from Green v. County School Board, 391 U.S. 430 (1968).

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