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“A Cruel and Intolerable Burden”

“A Cruel and Intolerable Burden”

Black Mississippians and Freedom of Choice

(p.34) Chapter 2 “A Cruel and Intolerable Burden”
Just Trying to Have School
Natalie G. AdamsJames H. Adams
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter discusses how school districts employed “freedom-of-choice” (FOC) plans after the 1964 Civil Rights Act to comply ostensibly with school desegregation orders. It relays the stories of several black parents and students in Mississippi who were the first to test their school district's desegregation plans. Some of them were closely associated with their local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapters; others had no prior history or experience in challenging segregation, and they acted without help from local or national civil rights organizations. All were tenacious in waging the fight in their local communities to desegregate their schools. As reflected in the stories told in this chapter, being the first in their communities to send their children to formerly all-white schools or being the first black student to attend such a school was a fearful experience.

Keywords:   Mississippi school districts, freedom of choice, 1964 Civil Rights Act, school desegregation, black Mississippians, NAACP, civil rights organizations

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