In very Ashmoreian language, the Court even listed the "local problems" that could be given as reasonable excuses for delay. [...] it delegated the task of administering school desegregation to local school boards, while handing to federal district judges the responsibility of deciding an appropriate timetable for change.6 The early years of school desegregation suggest that Ashmore and the Court were incorrect in assuming both that gradualism would be an effective strategy and that southern communities with large white majorities would provide the necessary leadership for that strategy.
Not Quite Black and White: School Desegregation in Arkansas, 1954-1966 JOHN A. KIRK ONE EVENING IN FALL 1954, after imbibing several drinks at the after- party of a forum they had both participated in at New York’s Hunter College, Harry S. Ashmore, executive editor of the Arkansas Gazette, and Thurgood Marshall, director-counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense and Educa- tional Fund, Inc., got into a heated debate about the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision. Ashmore urged caution. Different communi- ties would face different problems in desegregating schools, he said, and school districts should therefore be subject to different timetables for change. In particular, Ashmore believed that, as he put it in his book The Negro and the Schools, published just a day before the
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