Court orders MS town to desegregate its schools

Posted at 11:49 AM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 11:49:21-04

Despite the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ordering the desegregation of public schools nationwide, one Mississippi school district is only now undergoing the transformation.

A federal court has ordered the Justice Department to desegregate schools in Mississippi, where students in some secondary schools are still separated on the basis of race.

"Six decades after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declared that 'separate but equal has no place' in public schools, this decision serves as a reminder to districts that delaying desegregation obligations is both unacceptable and unconstitutional," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement released today.

The school district in question is in Cleveland, Miss., about 120 miles northwest of Jackson. The 2010 census estimated that the town had more than 12,000 residents.

The Justice Department statement specifically lists four schools that will be affected: the "virtually all-black" D.M. Smith Middle School, which will be integrated with "the historically white" Margaret Green Junior High School, and the "virtually all-black" East Side High School, which will be integrated with "the historically white" Cleveland High School.

"The delay in desegregation has deprived generations of students of the constitutionally guaranteed right of an integrated education," the 96-page order states, according to the Department of Justice. "Although no court order can right these wrongs, it is the duty of the district to ensure that not one more student suffers under this burden."