Author: Jody Allen

a visiting assistant professor in the department of history at the College of William and Mary
ENTRY

Green, Charles C. et al. v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia

Charles C. Green et al. v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia, was a 1968 United States Supreme Court decision that ordered school districts to abolish dual systems of education for black and white students, placing on them an “affirmative duty” to integrate their schools genuinely. The pressure for such a ruling had mounted in the years since the Court’s landmark decisions in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) and Brown II (1955), which had declared separate schools to be “inherently unequal” but did not define the process by which schools would be desegregated. Virginia officials had responded to Brown with the Massive Resistance movement, in some cases shutting down public schools rather than integrating them. Incremental desegregation occurred when federal courts forced those schools to reopen in 1959, although schools in Prince Edward County did not reopen until 1964. But in New Kent County, school board officials instituted bureaucratic delays while also placing the burden of desegregation on black families through a “freedom of choice” plan. Not until the Supreme Court struck down most “freedom of choice” plans in Green did Virginia school districts implement full desegregation.

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