Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

December 1985


The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the desegregation of public schools in a selected southern state between the years 1954 and 1974. In developing the research project that described the elimination of legal biracialism in North Carolina's schools, public sentiment emerged as a major factor. North Carolina's public schools were unusual when compared to other states with dual systems because, despite the fact that the state had one of the largest black populations in the nation, the desegregation drama proceeded peacefully and successfully, albeit slowly. Throughout the twenty-year period that was required to completely eliminate the dual school structure that existed at the time of the Brown decision, an abiding commitment to preserve a stable public school system was demonstrated by the people of North Carolina. In the implementation of the Brown ruling, the federal government gave the state ten years to begin and ten more to reach compliance. This judicious application of "all deliberate speed" allowed North Carolinians an opportunity to adjust to major societal change. The strong stand on law and order by North Carolina's leaders at critical stages of the desegregation process helped to account for the relatively peaceful demise of legal biracialism in the public schools. While most of the people were pro-segregationist and repeatedly elected leaders who advocated the continuance of segregated schools, they ultimately chose to obey the law. State officials, despite their pro-segregationist rhetoric, in almost every case stood firm on law and order issues. What was thought of in the 1950s as a regional problem took on national dimensions, and, by the 20th anniversary year of the Brown decision, North Carolina had some of the best desegregation statistics in the nation. The year 1974 was also the 10th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the law that actually brought about the elimination of dual schools in the state. By 1974, legal biracialism was a dead issue in North Carolina, and the system of dual schools was completely dismantled. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted