Browse Exhibits (9 total)

News Media Coverage of the Crisis

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In the summer of 1956 Mansfield High School became the first high school ordered to desegregate by a federal court order. On three seperate days a mob gathered outside the high school to prevent integration. Newspapers from around the state covered the events that unfolded as well as Texas' first televison station.This collection of newspapers and news scripts document the volatile response from the white citizens of mansfield as well as the court proceedings before, during and after the crisis at Mansfield High.

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Allan Shivers and Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The personal and political relationship between President Eisenhower and Governor Shivers demonstrates the calculated decisions both made during the crisis at Mansfield High School. Shivers’ support for Eisenhower in the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections ensured that an important relationship would develop between two unlikely allies. Eisenhower’s position in favor of states’ rights, along with favoring Texas’ claim to the tidelands, convinced Shivers to support a Republican over the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower went on to carry Texas in both elections and shared his gratitude with Shivers through frequent letter exchanges, meetings, and golfing trips.

The integration showdown at Mansfield High School prompted Shivers to send in Texas Rangers to maintain peace and avoid the integration of African-American students in defiance of court orders. The Eisenhower administration steered clear of any response that would have upheld court orders on integration in Mansfield. Not only did Eisenhower view Shivers’ actions as consistent with the powers of the Governor, but he also believed Shivers was able to prevent any acts of violence that would follow integration. Eisenhower would respond differently in the crisis at Little Rock, where he federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ensured the integration of Central High School. Eisenhower’s relationship with Shivers may have contributed to his lack of response in Mansfield and ensured a continued personal and political alliance.

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The NAACP in Texas

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From the time of its inception in 1915, the Texas chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People fought for the rights of black residents in the Lone Star state. Even with resistance from the Ku Klux Klan, Citizen's Councils, and occasionally the Texas government, the NAACP continued to protest Jim Crow laws and put forth litigation that would heighten the status of African Americans as equal to that of white citizens.

The organization had many peaks and valleys in the 20th century, from closing chapters due to heightened violence to winning long-fought battles in courtrooms. The biggest blow to the organization was a state trial that attempted to prohibit the NAACP from operating in the state. The determined activists persevered and continue to affect change in Texas today.

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The Desegregation of Public Schools

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The integration of public schools occurred across the South after the Brown v. Board of Education decision.  Efforts to desegregate Mansfield High School in 1956 failed.  Other towns , using either federal or state resources to enforce hte Supreme Court's decision, succeeded in integrating their public schools.

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Jim Crow Mansfield

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The effects of Jim Crow were evident all over Mansfield, Texas, from Farr Best Movie Theater where African Americans were only allowed access to the small balcony, to the colored school, which was for all black students up until ninth grade. The high school in Mansfield was for whites only; black students were bussed to I.M. Terrell in Fort Worth. These Jim Crow laws and customs directed the daily lives of the citizens of Mansfield. Although one Mansfield resident, Floyd Moody, remembers spending the weekends playing with some of the white Mansfield students, that all changed for him after August 1956, when he and three other students, with the help of T.M. Moody, a local black leader, and L. Clifford Davis, an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), tried to desegregate Mansfield High School. 

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Mansfield Crisis, 1956

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On August 17, 1956, a mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case of Jackson v. Rawdon stated in part “Nathaniel Jackson, Charles Moody, and Floyd Stevenson Moody, and all other negro minors of the same class as the named minor plaintiffs, have the right to admission to, and to attend the Mansfield High School on the same basis as members of the white race, and that the refusal of the defendants to admit plaintiffs thereto on account of color or race is unlawful.” Floyd S. Moody, one student named in the case, recalled that thirteen days later on August 30, 1956, the three named students along with L. Clifford Davis, T.M. Moody, and John Lawson went to register at Mansfield High School where Superintendent R.L. Huffman told them, "That would never happen." The following day, August 31, 1956, residents of Mansfield and surrounding areas gathered at the high school, joined by Texas Rangers, sent by Governor Allan Shivers to “maintain law and order.” Oral histories, area newspapers, NAACP regional archives, and documents in the Mansfield Historical Society and Mansfield Library convey the anxieties of the town, the curiosity of outsiders, the anger of radical segregationists, and the fears of local African Americans.

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Mansfield Integration

Mansfield ISD school board meeting minutes, January 26, 1965

Following the threat of losing federal funds for the district if it did not comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, nine years after the attempted desegregation of Mansfield High School, an article in the Mansfield News-Mirror announced the intent of Mansfield Independent School District to comply. In May 1965, pre-enrollment took place for African American students who would attend school in the fall. One of those students, Brenda Norwood, remembers loading up on the bus at the church on the first day of school to ride to Mansfield High School. She said, “There were a lot of people that did not want us there at all. Were we fearful? Yes, we didn’t know what was going to happen.”  Mrs. Norwood also remembered that as the students became acquainted with one another and involved, she developed relationships and friendships. Local newspapers reported the day of integration as “quiet” and even reported that black and white students were joking with each other in the hallways. 

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Road to Civil Rights Act of 1964

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After the incidents in the mid 1950s, Congress passed civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, and 1964.  The Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 did little to advance the integration of public schools.  However, the 1964 act promoted integration by denying federal funds to school that remained segregated. 

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Jackson v. Rawdon

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in 1955, following the U.S. Supreme Court's two Brown v. Board of Education decisions, Mansfield High School in Mansfield, Texas, was still for whites students only. Mansfield ISD only provided schools for African Americans through the eighth grade, so African American students who wanted to continue their educations had to ride a bus to I.M. Terrell high School in Fort Worth.  Some African American residents on Mansfield, including T.M. Moody, began work in hopes of integration at the local high school. They hired Clifford Davis, a young Fort Worth attorney who had previously succeeded with similar suits for the NAACP in Arkansas. On October 7, 1955, Davis filed a lawsuit against Superintendent O.C. Rawdon and the Mansfield School Board on behalf of three African American students requesting admission to Mansfield High School. 

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