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This Month’s Book Investigates Mississippi’s History Desegregating Its Public Schools

Learning and education are integral parts of the Alluvial Collective’s mission. What better way to educate ourselves than via a good read? With that in mind, we launched a monthly book giveaway recommending books that inspire us to discuss and reflect.

This month’s book is “The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle Over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870 – 1980” by Charles C. Bolton.

Click here to enter by July 22.

From the Publisher:

Race has shaped public education in the Magnolia State, from Reconstruction through the Carter Administration. For “The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle Over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870-1980” Charles C. Bolton mines newspaper accounts, interviews, journals, archival records, legal and financial documents, and other sources to uncover the complex story of one of Mississippi’s most significant and vexing issues.

This history closely examines specific events–the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the 1966 protests and counter-demonstrations in Grenada, and the efforts of particular organizations–and carefully considers the broader picture.

Despite a “separate but equal” doctrine established in the late nineteenth century, the state’s racially divided school systems quickly developed vast differences in terms of financing, academic resources, teacher salaries, and quality of education. As one of the nation’s poorest states, Mississippi could not afford to finance one school system adequately, much less two.

For much of the twentieth century, whites fought hard to preserve the dual school system, in which the maintenance of one-race schools became the most important measure of educational quality. Blacks fought equally hard to end segregated schooling, realizing that their schools would remain underfunded and understaffed as long as they were not integrated.