• September 26, 1951
  • May 17, 1954
  • September 04, 1957
  • September 23, 1957
  • February 02, 1958

Desegregation in the 1950s

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka declared segregation on the basis of race unconstitutional. But in 1956, the state of Florida was listed among the signatories of the Southern Manifesto, a document drafted by Southern states, which opposed school desegregation and sought a legal reversal to the Supreme Court's decision. The Florida legislature put forth an "interposition" measure in an attempt to nullify the court's decision. Governor LeRoy Collins, a moderate, refused to sign the document and led a more gradual implementation of school desegregation.

University of Miami historian, Charlton Tebeau, recounts that the "approach of the university was concerned, cautious and conservative, a policy with which President Pearson agreed." While politicians and administrators at educational institutions were failing to move toward school desegregation with "all deliberate speed" the black citizenry, civic and professional organizations began to push for changes through formal requests and law suits. In 1954, the University of Miami's Board of Trustees, under President Pearson, supported the admission of Black Colleges to the Florida Association of College and Universities. In 1958, the UM School of Education also began to offer off campus but integrated education classes: "the first integrated class at the University of Miami ...Leadership Seminar for Newly Appointed Principles... included three white and two black teachers." Full integration would have to wait until the turbulent 60s.