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The Tuscaloosa case and others like it were hard, McFadden said. One of 13 children born into the waning days of Jim Crow, he took his place in the earliest of integrated American institutions: the military. Yet while the Court dragged its feet on what to do, southern officials were moving quickly.

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The route began in the predominantly black West End and ended a few blocks later, just short of the railroad tracks that divide that community from the rest of the city. Dent and his parents and 12 siblings were often on the move, sometimes crashing with relatives. In overruling McFadden, the federal appeals court noted that the virtually all-black Druid High was not even two miles from the mostly white Tuscaloosa High. As a result, token integration replaced absolute segregation in many places.

Indue to strong federal enforcement, only about 25 percent of black students in the South attended schools in which at least nine out of 10 students were racial minorities.

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Nene, as her family calls her, beamed and waved. The racial caste system the Court suddenly deemed illegal not only predated the nation itself but had been sanctioned by that very judicial body for six decades. Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the s become the most integrated, typically as a result of federal court orders. It was meet polish women in Tuscaloosa AL across two campuses—ninth- and 10th-graders at the former black high school, now called Central West; 11th- and 12th-graders at the old white high school, called Central East.

State officials encouraged white parents to remove their children from public schools, helping to set off the white flight that continues to plague school systems today. T ucked along the Black Warrior River some 60 miles southwest of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa has a racial history marked by contradictions. Revelers—young and old, black and white, old money and no money—crowded the sidewalks to watch the elaborate floats and cheer a football team feared across the region. Central had successfully achieved integration, the district had argued—it could be trusted to manage that success going forward.

McFadden, now 88, with a shock of white hair, still practices law in Montgomery, and he recently described the predicament he found himself in some 40 years ago. Under the law, the feds for the first time could sue defiant districts. Inanother federal judge released Tuscaloosa City Schools from the court-ordered desegregation mandate that had governed it for a single generation.

Certainly what happened in Tuscaloosa was no accident. Predominantly white neighborhoods adjacent to Central have been gerrymandered into the attendance zones of other, whiter schools. Dent waved back and looked around to share the moment. All traces of the segregated system, from the mascots to the school colors of the two former schools, were discarded.

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All-white schools started disappearing, but all-black schools remained common. That year, the new school board provided maps, tables, blackboards, and crayons for white children and black children. But by the time the Tuscaloosa case hit his desk, McFadden said, Brown had stood as the law of the land for two decades and the legal barriers to integration had been eliminated.

And yet, of course, the phrase good race relations was misleading: the city operated under the dictates of Jim Crow until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of Black people took their first breaths in segregated hospital rooms, worshipped in segregated churches, and, when they died, were buried in segregated graveyards.

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Just like he had. The curriculum pushed students toward learning a trade instead of preparing for college. Mostly, it reminded him of how poor his family was. Board of Education never happened.

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Its civic leaders have, at times, been called progressive. So, at about in the afternoon on October 18, Dent, age 64, made his way off the porch and to the curb along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the West End of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. When the city founded its public-school system init opened both white and black schools.

While most of these schools are in the Northeast and Midwest, some 12 percent of black students in the South now attend such schools—a figure likely to rise as court oversight continues to wane. Central retains the name of the old powerhouse, but nothing more. The move was clumsy and unpopular, but its consequences were profound. Its students soaked up lessons from a committed staff of all-black teachers, many of whom were exceptionally talented, in part because teaching was among the only professional careers open to black southerners at the time.

There was a time, little more than a decade ago, when the Central High School homecoming parade brought out the city. McFadden admitted to me that much of the segregation once required by law remained, even though the laws no longer did. What the school lacked in racial diversity, it made up for in economic variety: the children of domestic workers walked the halls with the children of college professors.

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Soon he could hear the first rumblings of the band. He noted that segregation had its roots in slavery, and that white attitudes toward black Americans had hardened over the centuries.

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Even so, Melissa Dent began her education at the same all-black elementary school that her father had attended. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v.

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As one of the biggest schools in the state, Central would offer classes in subjects ranging from Latin to forensics. But the Supreme Court had already made clear that disproportionately black schools in districts with a history of legal segregation were highly suspicious, and that housing-based segregation could not justify all-black schools in these districts.

Within a few years, Central emerged as a powerhouse that snatched up National Merit Scholarships and math-competition victories just as readily as it won trophies in football, track, golf.

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In the hours after the parade, James Dent sat back in a worn wingback chair in the cramped but tidy house he and his wife rent in the West End. Later that night, she would be named homecoming queen as well. He served four years in the Air Force, including a year in Vietnam, before returning to the West End to spend the next 40 mixing cement for a living. In districts released from desegregation orders between and53 percent of black students now attend such schools, according to an analysis by ProPublica. He believed only a united Court could contain southern rage, but some of the justices wanted to go slow.

Board of Education decision in The Brown ruling did not hinge on the inferior resources allotted black students under many segregated educational systems.

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Board of Education said you cannot send to a specific school because of his or her race, and that is precisely what affirmative action was requiring to be done. But after a long silence, he gently suggested that maybe his granddaughter deserved a little more than a car salute at a brief and sparsely attended parade.

The Supreme Court had been right in striking down legal segregation, McFadden said. Historians and older black residents say the city avoided the ugliest violence of that time because black people mostly stayed in their meet polish women in Tuscaloosa AL. Still, byone out of three southern black kids was going to school with white children. The imperial wizard of the United Klans of America called Tuscaloosa home during the civil-rights era. The ruling came with a heavy compromise. Nor was it isolated. But while segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else.

Virginia Governor Thomas B. Some states helped fund the all-white academies popping up across the South. By the time he started his freshman year in high school, ina full decade after Brownjust 2. Central was not just a renowned local high school. Unlike many other southern cities, Tuscaloosa has a long tradition of educating black children.

In recent years, a new term, apartheid schools —meaning schools whose white population is 1 percent or less, schools like Central—has entered the scholarly lexicon. Thin, with chestnut skin, and seldom seen without a Vietnam-vet cap, Dent is a reserved man, not prone to soapboxes. But besides his wife and his stepson, no one else was there.

It is a story shaped by racial politics and a consuming fear of white flight. Backed by the courts and Congress, the Johnson administration set the Justice Department to aggressively pursuing desegregation.

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Two years after the Brown ruling, not a single black child attended school with white children in eight of the 11 former Confederate states, including Alabama. The work was steady, but the pay meager. The sweeping legislation brought about the rarest of moments in American history: all three branches of government were aligned on civil rights. McFadden disagreed.

Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so. James Dent would never feel the impact of these changes: Druid High remained untouched until well after his graduation.

If integration was going to prove so brief, what, he wondered, had all the fighting been for? The citywide integrated high school is gone, replaced by three smaller schools. Warren understood the storm of resistance likely to confront the decision. And it was blessed by a U. Department of Justice no longer committed to fighting for the civil-rights aims it had once championed. None of those children lived in Tuscaloosa.

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School did not come easily to Dent, an athletic boy with a serious face, nor did he particularly like it. Dent never went to college. The city is home to three colleges, the University of Alabama among them, and a pioneering psychiatric hospital.