Rosa Parks Notes
School Desegregation Workshop
Highlander Center, July 24 - August 8, 1955

[In the summer of 1955, Rosa Parks who is Secretary of the Montgomery Alabama NAACP, attends an integrated two-week workshop at the Highlander Folk School (today Highlander Center) in Tennessee. Officially titled, "Racial Desegregation: Implementing the Supreme Court Decision," the workshops and informal discussions cover a wide-range of topics, including the use of Nonviolent Resistance to oppose segregation. Four months later Rosa Parks sparks the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she nonviolently refuses to give up her seat to a white man.

These are the notes that Mrs. Parks took during the school-desegregation workshops. Note that some of these pages may have gotten out of sequence.

Rosa Parks' Handwritten Notes [PDF]

Transcribed Notes

Work shop - Descg. Highlander f sch
Participation - Visitors - Staff

Mr. Ray Allen
1541 Alta Vista
Memphis, Tenn (C10)
Mr. Fred Lawrence
8 Hampden St.
Charleston S.C.
Charleston Fertilizer &
Chem Workers (Secy Treas)
Mr. Joseph N. Barnett
Rt. 12 Box 373
Charleston Heights, S.C.
(Mine Mill Smelter)
Mr. Esau Jenkins
John's Island, SC
CC of J. Is.
Mr. Harold Boyer
1717 Lake Ave
Knoxville, Tenn.
Un of Tenn.
Mr. Freddie L. Johnson
2030 Delaware Ave
Charleston SC.
Chas. Fert & Chem wkers
Dr. & Mrs. Johan W. Eleat
204 East C. Ave
N. Little Rock, Ark.
Mr. Elijah Freeman
John's Island, S.C.
Citizen Club of John's Is.
Mrs. W. F. Greene.
2228 Lee St.
Columbia S.C.
S.C. Council on Human Rel.
Miss May Justus
Tracy City, Tenn.
Teacher and Author

Irene Osborne, Discussion Leader
July 27 [1955] - 9:00 AM

Visitors fr. Denmark Fullbright scholarship Elsie ________ Adult Labor Ed. in Denmark.

Examples of successful integration.

Washington D.C. Spring Summer 1954. Wk 3yr before May 1954. Overcrowded Negro __ Half Empty much space white white m. out negro moved in City. Worst atmosphere where most desegregation. Problems severe - mixed neighborhood. Started taking negro out of over crowded schools and putting them in white school. White protested. Every degree of opposition-much tension

166 schools - 122 mixed
20% to 50% Negr. 29 sch.
40 to 70% wh. 12 sch.
Leave tcher aand principle where they are, few transfers
5 negro McKinly-
38 mixed Staffs 34 formerly white school
86 Negr tc went to formerly white school
White tc to formerly negro school

May 25 - before Board adopted Desegregation Supt. delayed action. July new map not too clear. Parents did not know rights.

Highlander Folk School - 1955
Montengle, Tenn.

2nd Session 11:00 A.M.
Memo on School Integration

Steps in implementing Supreme Court Decisions

Break group up in small committees to revise memo.

Suggested Projects of orgin the future.


Action Guide

Working toward Integrated Public Schools in your own community.

Divided in 4 groups to revise pamphlet.

Anna Kelly - was at Highlander Workshop in 19

Results of the 1st pamphlet explained by Septima [Clark] Y.W.C.A. - N.A.A.C.P. — Several Organizations combined to take action. Radio Program — Topic Improvement of schools no mention of integration or desegregation. Script had to be screened Aug — Oct series. May 17, Supreme Ct. Decision taken calmly. Some favoble statements made by citizens

Concrete action on School desegregation.

P.T.A. staff integrated through vacancies. No tendencies to segregate within school whatever. 1 Negro mother presiding.

Negroes. very [unclear] high class, middle class, low class of extreme poverty, Some negroes in upper class with whites in lower class. Upper whites with low negro. Some about equal in poverty and middle class. No Negro teacher has lost job. not likely.

More trouble in talking than acting.

Charleston S.C. North area Negroes moved in housing project police posted 24 hrs. Nothing happened. living peacefully together.

Long N.Y. sales girls in Dept Stores. Research quest ppl whether they favor or not being served by negro. Many spoke against it, acted differently and bought from them

Miles [Horton] - asking question about desegregation waste of time. situation create attitude.

July 27 afternoon 2:00 PM
Herman Long Discussion Leader

Spec. def of purpose of function of advisory Com of B. of Ed

Fred Routh of S. Reg. Council

Org. in North - in South in 1919 interacial to prevent race riots.

Fla Atty Gen Et. Sup of Ed advised such org be set up. Tom Bailu, southern. Dick Erum Atty Dade Co Coucil of Com Rel. Panel to speak to org.

Texas [Unclear 6 words]
Ky Louisville has Ofc Com
Winston-Salem has talked of i
Rock Hill SC has Com.

Bham 2 in racial Com kept leadership. [Unclear] Red Feath agencies watch who gets on committees ask negro about white [unclear 2 words] Negroes do not want [unclear] because of vected int or fear pick ppl not on public payroll. Group advisory advice may or may not be taken. Put ppl in all school B. Mtgs. Schools may be given away but not for long, ppl would rather integrate school than no public schools work fast and effectively as ppl.

Better schools for children not negro children

Honest Advisory B. May act in absence of state policy by the B of Ed. failing to act in absence on the community.

Personal should be free of [unclear 2 words] sensitive positions What constitutes leadership both Negro and White. Have roles of com made specific. Meetings should be open to public. Clean cut policy on desegregation.

What - How - When will it be done.

Suggested B solicit last from group of ppl

NAACP legal action for desegregation.

S Reg council Social process integration. Instead of working for Negroes we are working with ppl to bring better ed. in a democratic society.

Nat. Org. on seg basis Y.M.C.A. - Y.W.C.A. - P.T.A. Girl Scouts - Boy Scouts. National Education Association and affiliates.

Sunday July 31, 1955 9:30 A.M.
Subject - World's Eye view of problem

Orvill Mezzrick - reporter [Hdqtrs?] in U.N. on recorder. World Health. John Is problem same as any other pl in the world.

Int in Navy not be US alone but by opinion of the other ppl of world. Had [unclear 3 words] we don't discriminate.

Problem solved by local voting and also outside pressure.

Exchange program of sharing because power - war - [Science?] says no use of our country does not demand on our [unclear] military establishment.

Moral convictions not in more practiced arrangement and fears. Myth of Race - Man's most dangerous falling - Montaque.

Desegregation prove itself by being put in action not changing attitude. attitudes will change.

Set a Specific Time for integration of the education

1. Begin work on education of policy setters

Asbury Howard, Bessemer: Example: An influential Rabbi has asked to call an interacial meeting of ministers before going to school board

The school board should:

Set a good policy and enforce it

With the Supreme Court decree the job is not if the schools will be integrated, but how to integrate them.

The best way is to integrate all at once

It will be both phyically and psychologically impractical to use gradual integration from 1st though 12th grades.

With System-wide integration, it will be much easier to retain teacher tenure. This must be worked out locally as the Supreme Court was silent on the subject of teachers.

1. Groups
2. Enlarge Groups
3. Assign History Org
4. 1 person
5. Joint Commitee- Washington plan.

Aug. 2 [1955] - 9: A.M.
Bessemer - Asbury Howard
A.J. Grur - Will Thomas

School Board making no effort toward desegregation.

File NAACP petition to board Sat. No answer from board. Teachers have tenure laws. Floated 1 1/2 million bond issue - Negoes receivd nothing from it. Asking for school desegregation in accordance to S.C. Decision not Negro Schools. Against new schools where there will be delay in integration. Residential area integration. Negroes have bal of voting power in Bessemer. 500 vothing [indeciperable], white vote split. Want support of white ppl, but to the extent of [indecipherable] their influence through political and social elimination because because of their actions.

Myles [Horton] - long hard flight must use heads and understand how to work without being isolated. Afternoon Session 2:00 P.M
Henry Shipherd - Discussion leader

Wagner - Charleston, S.C. Minister learned much at workshop and take something back. Much pleasure experience count all as friends and hope to be considered so.

Fred - Secy Treas of Union has leard much and hope to do a better job when he returns. Barnett has learned much. Learned more about each other. Fred

Charleston S.S. Mrs. [Septima] Clark

Charleston NAACP got 47 parents to sign petitions to School Board to desegregate school. Chairman of Board referred it to next meeting. 4,000 [indecipherable] 7,000 [indecipherable]

Afternoon Session 2:00 P.M.
Mr. Herman Long Discussion Leader

To whom would action be taken towards in first step to integration. Barnett said Churches and other organized religion body. He said integration should begin on a gradual basis at lower grades. Organized approach to homes to educate parents to favor integration.

Little Rock Ark. Sch Board making plans for school desegregation but High School - Jr. Hi - elementary begin 1955. Plans depends on building. Mr Esau [Jenkins] said Citizens Committee can do a better job of influencing desegregation.

Citizens Committee

Irene - Md Case, mixed report of conflicting opinion

Mr. Long Louisville Ky. School Board set up Committee to educate public to good-will toward integration.

N.O. LA School set up advisory Committee, made up of school people. No intention expressed to comply decision. Chattanooga school B. set up committee.

Points of disadvantage. Substitute for action
Points of advantage shows Boards may be acting in good faith

Gradualism vs. immediacy.

Gradualism would ease shock of white minds, psychological effect. disadvantage, give opposition more time to build greater resistance. Prolong the change.

2:00 P.M. Aug 2. Chattanooga

Rev. Dennis - Bapt. Minister - No public statement made by any org or individual. Chattanooga NAACP Branch took no action. County and City Board promised to talk with them.

After Supt's. saying board had no policy, a suit was spoken of by Rev. Dennis. The board released the statement to the press that they would desegregate schools but not in 1955. Board meeting open to public. Mens Civic League, 200 members made up mostly of young business and professional men. Organized 2 yrs ago after rash of phantom attacks on white women. Interacial commission - status quo policy, get negro Drs in city.

NAACP leadership's inadequate. Dr. Stevens ill, not supported by community. Board will integrate not 1955 - Will ask for complete integration in 1956. Chattanooga uses negroes on Advisory Boards, but are hand picked and ineffective on desegregation. pop. 130,000 city - met. area 240,000 60,000 negroes, 40% negor. county 20% roughly 1/3 - approx. 18,000 Reg. 5,000 vote regularly. 2 million High School S. Chattanooga slum area - non - residential.

Copyright © Rosa Parks. 1955.

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