Opposition to Integration, 1956


The Brown decision declared the system of legal segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The original decision was followed by a second related decision in 1955. This Supreme Court decision ordered that the states end segregation with "all deliberate speed." There were considerable organized oppositions to the rulings. Segregationists played on the fears and prejudices of their communities and launched a militant campaign of defiance and resistance. Through state and local governments and private organizations, white supremacists attempted to block desegregation. People across the country, like these in 1956 from Poolesville, Maryland, took to the streets to protest integration. This kind of opposition exposed the deep divide in the nation and revealed the difficulty of enforcing the high court's decision.


"Picketers," 1956, Washington Star Collection, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Washington D.C.