Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

E. Doyle Stevick


My purpose for this study is to shed light on how the African-American community in a small Southern rural community experienced segregated schools and the long school desegregation process. Conflicts over school integration in urban centers like Little Rock drew the media's attention, but how small communities beyond the glare of the media fared is less well understood and documented. Archival data and contemporary media coverage provide a timeline and context for the experiences of this Black community, and oral history interviews were collected and analyzed to document the range of desegregation experiences.

Although the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 was the culmination of a long struggle and formally started with the Briggs v. Elliot case in South Carolina, the desegregation era effectively gained traction after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when the Federal government utilized financial incentives to encourage the racial desegregation of public schools in America. The desegregation era is typically understood by the heavily publicized events surrounding court-mandated desegregation of public schools in American cities. The reporting of events related to desegregation in rural Southern school districts generally was not well known. Less is understood about the personal experiences and emotional impact made on the individuals who experienced, firsthand, changes surrounding the desegregation schools. I hope to understand how the events of that time shaped the feelings and perspectives of those individuals.


© 2022, Margo McDowell Gore