40 pages 1 hour read

C. Vann Woodward

The Strange Career of Jim Crow

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1955

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Chapter 5

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary: “The Declining Years of Jim Crow”

Chapter 5 centers on the implications of the Supreme Court decision on segregation in public schools. The Supreme Court judgment removed any legal foundation for segregation with its decision on May 17, 1954. It was officially implemented on May 31, 1955. In the year between the ruling and implementation, the Jim Crow system remained in place across the South, though it was on the defensive. The Supreme Court decision noted the different circumstances facing schools and left the implementation to local districts. Segregationists challenged the Supreme Court rulings, but by January 1956, 19 court decisions involving school segregation cases sided with the Supreme Court. In that same period African Americans organized for integration, and the NAACP filed petitions for desegregation with 170 school boards in 17 states in the summer of 1955.

By 1956, race relations in the South had deteriorated rapidly. Alabama said the “fateful words, ‘null, void, and of no effect’” (263), signaling its decision to ignore the Supreme Court ruling. This was echoed by Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina, while North Carolina “adopted a ‘resolution of protest’” (263). These tactics of “resistance, evasion, and delay opened by laws” delayed desegregation (276).