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Title: Making a "Model" System: Race, Education and Politics in the Nation's Capital Before Brown, 1930-1950
Authors: Hamilton, Tikia Kenise
Advisors: Kruse, Kevin M.
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Brown v. Board
District of Columbia
Eduational Policy
Race Relations
Subjects: History
African American studies
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: “Making a ‘Model’ System: Race, Education and Politics in the Nation’s Capital before Brown, 1930-1950” offers a more complex interpretation of the multivalent strategies African Americans adopted in their pursuit of educational equality during the civil rights movement. This dissertation recovers black efforts to desegregate the public schools in Washington, D.C. Examining the strategies of the local NAACP and affiliated organizations, and their combined emphasis on litigation and racial liberalism, this dissertation argues that the work of local civil rights activists helped lay the legal and social frameworks for Brown. Yet, this dissertation also reveals the alternative routes activists pursued when litigation and inter-racialism proved insufficient. Seeking the “radical redistribution” of school properties, local activists set upon a path of self-determination that redefined notions of equality, increased black access to public space, and set the pace for Washington’s future as the nation’s first predominantly black city. Few scholars have explored black activism within the context of Washington’s unique political system, especially before Brown. My project seeks to correct this oversight, and makes several interdisciplinary interventions in Twentieth Century U.S. History. First, my dissertation challenges conventional approaches to politics in a city where blacks and whites lacked voting rights and congressional representation. Focusing on a period of great political and economic upheaval, I reveal how black residents overcame electoral disenfranchisement by developing extensive organizational networks, and by forming the necessary coalitions to undermine segregation. They also leveraged their status as citizens of the nation’s capital to gain additional educational resources; and they exploited ongoing jurisdictional battles between the various federal and municipal agencies that administered education, forcing white liberals to challenge segregation more directly. Second, I join recent scholars who complicate existing civil rights frameworks which emphasize integration as the ultimate goal of black activists. The strategic differences that often divided residents who prioritized “immediate action” over the slow pace of litigation ultimately influenced the outcomes of the individual campaigns they waged. Third, my emphasis on the formation of educational policy within an evolving urban landscape illustrates how African Americans successfully undermined segregationist claims to white schools and neighborhoods.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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