Mississippi Town’s Views on Desegregation

Mississippi Towns Views on Desegregation


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The railroad tracks have been gone for years. In their place is a half-mile path that serves as a racial divide.  In this Cleveland, Mississippi town high schools, East Side high, and Cleveland High, have been segregated even after over 50 years since the Brown vs. Board of Education supreme court case. East High, a nearly all-black school, must be integrated with the historically white but now-racially split Cleveland High.  The school board is looking at closing East High.


Everyone has an opinion, including Cleveland natives Little and Mays. Mays, 21, graduated from East Side in 2013, Little from Cleveland High in 2008.

Mays feels he got a good education at East Side, but Little came in saying he got a better one at Cleveland High. Littles aunt urged him to choose Cleveland High because it’s a safer, better school, maybe not knowing East Side boasts a superior math and English proficiency in state testing.

According to the report, many say they’re ok with the way things are. Students say they were given a choice whether to attend Cleveland High or East Side.

Not that that will matter to the U.S. Justice Department, which heralded the federal ruling. The decision came after several integration attempts that, ultimately, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi deemed inadequate. The Justice Department’s civil rights division has reviewed or intervened in more than 100 school district cases since the turn of the millennium, at least 30 of them involving race and at least seven of them, including Cleveland’s, classified as “longstanding segregation” cases.

“They need to keep East Side the way it is,” said Mia, the graduate. “They’re making a big deal out of nothing. It’s East Side, and it’s been there a long time. Why would they change it? We Trojans for life.”


How does segregation happen and why are some people comfortable with it?

I feel people are comfortable with segregation because its been around for their lives, they may feel safe with the way things are and may be uncomfortable thinking that it will all change if East High is closed down.  It may happen because of how the town is laid out, and what they’ve been around.

Why is desegregation so hard?  What other factors keep people divided?  

They shouldn’t be forced into moving if they integrated the town.  Social class keeps people out of certain neighborhoods, because they cant pay the money to live there, or the people don’t get along because of their skin color.

The courts and local government should consider ways to desegregate the town without forcing East High to close, as many students and former students are not happy with this being a possibility for them.  They are not comfortable with the change, because this is what they are so used to.  They could be scared of what will happen if they are integrated.