On this day in 1956, an angry mob surrounded Mansfield High School to prevent the enrollment of three African-American students in what became known as the Mansfield School Desegregation Incident. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had sued the Mansfield school district over its segregation of black schoolchildren. When a federal court ordered the district to desegregate--the first time a Texas school district received such an order--many white citizens resisted. Vigilantes barred integration sympathizers from entering town, whites hanged three blacks in effigy, and downtown businesses closed in support of the demonstrations. Governor Allan Shivers authorized the Mansfield school board to transfer black students to Fort Worth, seventeen miles away, and dispatched Texas Rangers to uphold the district's policy of segregation. The successful defiance of the federal court order helped inspire the passage of state segregation laws in 1957, delaying integration for several years. The Mansfield school district finally desegregated in 1965.Grits was raised on stories of Texas Ranger heroism, but somehow that one never made it into the canon.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Not the Texas Rangers' proudest day
Grits receives the Texas State Historical Association's relentless daily email and today's missive told the story of a particularly unsavory, if successful, use of the Texas Rangers to enforce Jim Crow in defiance of federal courts.