- The suit cam about as the result of a school boycott by Moton High School students led by Barbara Johns, niece of Vernon Johns, demanding not only better facilities but also integration.
- US District Court: Dobie, Hutchinson, and Bryan, judges
- NAACP strategy (Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill)
o Convince court to declare schools unequal
o And declare segregation unconstitutional
- State witness admitted that the schools were not equal, but they argued that black students were not interested in many of the courses and activities offered at white schools.
- Kenneth Clark, the psychologist, used his 'doll test' (see
Briggs) to argue, “Segregation is prejudice concretized in society.”
- State rebuttals to Clark’s testimony:
o After asking Clark questions about his skin color, Moore,
representing the State, ridiculed Clark’s test by acting like a
'darky’ as he played the part of a student responding to Clark’s tests. He argued that Clark’s findings were only inferences drawn from loaded questions.
o Testifying for the state, Columbia psychologist Henry Garrett asserted that “the principle of segregation is long and well established in American life: boys and girls, Catholic and Jews, slow learners and quick learners are segregated without stigma. The mere act of segregation has no particular relevance to personality development. Given the temper, mores, customs and backgrounds of the people of Virginia, the Negro high school student will get a better education in a separate school than he will in a mixed school.”
v. Jenkins 1995)
- The State lawyers argued that any immediate, court mandated desegregation of schools would be catastrophic for education because the people of Virginia were in no way prepared for the drastic change. The people’s commitment to public education would be weakened. State hints that the people would close their public schools rather than integrate them.
- Court opinion:
o Racial separation rested “neither upon prejudice nor caprice nor upon any measureless foundation
but had for generations been a part of the mores of the people. To have separate schools is their wont and use.”; furthermore, the authority to segregate schools rested within the state’s police power “to legislate with respect to the safety, morals, health and general welfare” of its citizens.
o Local and state authorities are moving with speed to equalize facilities.