Make Haste Slowly: Moderates, Conservatives, and School Desegregation in Houston
Annotation When faced with the Supreme Court's order for "all deliberate speed" in achieving school desegregation, a fearful Houston school board member urged the city to "make haste slowly". Houston, Texas, had what may have been the largest racially segregated public school system in the United States when the Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional in 1954. Ultimately, helped by members of its business community, Houston did desegregate its public schools and did so peacefully, without making the city a battleground of racial violence. In Make Haste Slowly, William Henry Kellar provides the first extensive examination of Houston's racially segregated public school system, the long fight for desegregation, and the roles played by community groups in one of the most significant stories of the civil rights era. Drawing on archival records, HISD School Board minutes, interviews with participants in the process, and the oral history collection of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Kellar shows that, while Houston desegregated its public school system peacefully, the limited integration that originally occurred served only to delay equal access to HISD schools. Houstonians shifted from a strategy of "massive resistance" to one of "massive retreat". White flight and resegregation transformed both the community and its public schools. Kellar concludes that forty years after the Brown decision, many of the aspirations that landmark ruling inspired have proven elusive, but the impact of the ruling on Houston has changed the face of that city and the nature of its public education dramatically and in unanticipated ways.
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