The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE speaker reveals ’50 issues with civil rights in Mansfield

By Melanie Urrejola/reporter

Mansfield bears a special place in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, a South history associate professor told SE students Jan. 23 while speaking about The Mansfield School Desegregation Incident, part of the Changing America series.

John Lundberg presented students with an important episode of history that took place almost 60 years ago in Mansfield that many residents have forgotten or simply would rather not mention.

“It’s amazing that with all the attention that has been lavished on the Civil Rights Movement, this incident has not given much attention,” he said.

The incident refers to Mansfield’s refusal to integrate its school district after the Brown v. Board of Education decision during the fall of 1954, which stated that it was unconstitutional for black and white students to be separated.

“Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” the court decided.

Lundberg showed pictures of Mansfield during the 1950s to allow his listeners a better visualization of the effects segregation brought upon the town’s residents. These photographs included vulgar and demeaning language written on posters and cars by the Mansfield residents at the time as well as hung up effigies splattered with red paint meant as a warning for African-Americans not to enroll in school.

“One must understand here that these civil rights cases like Mansfield did not just come out of nowhere,” Lundberg said. “They came from [African-American] organizations and parents submitting reasonable petitions over and over again for small improvements.”

Mansfield was the first lawsuit in Texas for desegregating a secondary school, Lundberg said.

There were no high schools in Mansfield for African-Americans at this time.

“When those improvements were denied, it eventually became more and more of an issue, and it went to court,” he said.

The African-American community of Mansfield and surrounding areas had asked for equal educational opportunities as well as identical freedom to attend extracurricular activities, Lundberg said.

“It was not as if they just filed suit,” he said. “They have been asking for these improvements for years.”

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