Texarkana, U.S.A. – Wednesday, July 20, 1949
Negroe’s School Suit Part of NAACP War on Segregation, Stilwell Says
The issue is the suit brought against the Texarkana, Texas school board and school superintendent is one phase in the NAACP’s fight to break down segregation in the schools, Superintendent H. W. Stilwell told the Rotary Club at noon Tuesday at Hotel Grim.
Mr. Stilwell based his assertion on published statements to that effect by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The NAACP, in a published statement of its aims, said that its activities would be designed to bring about equal salaries for Negro and white teacher; equal school facilities for Negroes; equal privileges on dining cars and other cars on trains; abolition of the Jim Crow law on trains and buses; abolition of regulations against Negroes by restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, and hotels; abolition of segregation in theaters and churches, and abolition of regulations concerning the employment of Negroes and regulations restrict be powerless to act. It cannot issue any bonds not authorized by towns and cities.
Mr. Stilwell said that according to Donald Jones, Texas spokesman for the NAACP, six suits will be brought against schools in Texas. Thus far, only two have been filed one in Texarkana and one in Winnsboro.
Mr. Stilwell said that the school board had employed legal counsel to advise it as to what should be done regarding the suit, and the attorneys had advised the board that it should furnish the equal facilities demanded by the Negroes.
“The board is powerless to move until the citizens of Texarkana have taken certain steps—and we don’t think it would be fair for you to let us go to jail by failing to take the necessary steps,” Mr. Stilwell said.
The “certain steps” would be a petition presented by the required number of qualified voters that an election be called to raise the college district tax limit and issue bonds for college and public school purposes for Negro facilities.
Unless the people call for such an election, the school board will be powerless to act. It cannot issue any bonds not authorized by the voters, and unless it can issue bonds it cannot raise funds necessary to meet the demands of the suit.
Mr. Stilwell said that the people of Texarkana must tell the school board what it is to do. He listed the possible solutions as follows:
- Provide facilities piece for piece like those in white schools for a junior high school, senior high school, and junior college for Negroes. To do this, a petition must be circulated requesting an election for the issuance of bonds amounting to approximately $500,000.
- Arrive at some kind of compromise which would permit the district to add more rooms at Dunbar in order to set up complete junior high and senior high school organizations with separate principals and facilities; and set up a college using the Dunbar building at times not in conflict with junior and senior high school work plus the installation of a $33,000 library and a $20,000 laboratory. An additional $30,000 to $50,000 would be needed as operating expenses annually for the college.
- Abolish the Texarkana College so that neither the white or Negro students would have college facilities.
- Await the federal court decision, which probably would be that unless identical facilities were provided segregation must be abolished and the negro students taken into the white schools.
Mr. Stilwell said the suit is set for trial in September, but because court is not scheduled to meet then, it probably will not come up until January. The suit was filed in the Eastern district of Texas.