School Integration in West Virginia

Opinions Differ on Supreme Court Edict But Few Will Discuss Segregation Issue

Charleston Daily Mail
May 23, 1954

Comment on the outlawing of segregation in public schools came freely from educational, governmental and Negro leaders, but not from the people on downtown Charleston streets.

The Inquiring Reporter stopped 20 persons before he got answers from five on how they feel about the supreme court ruling.

Some of those asked for comment just shook their heads and walked away and others said they didn’t want to get involved in discussions of the subject.

One man was stopped, and before the question could be put to him, said:

“I know what you want me to talk about and segregation is one thing I won’t discuss.”

Opinions from the five who did answer were split.

The question was:

“How do you feel about the supreme court ruling that Negro and white children shall not be segregated in public schools?”

Three expressed beliefs that Kanawha county and West Virginia will comply by the high court’s decision without much trouble.

The other two said they believed school administrations would run into trouble in mixing the school children.

Richard Arthur of Malden, a pipefitter said:

“I don’t believe it will be without repercussions here.”

But he added that he didn’t expect the supreme court ruling to meet as much opposition in West Virginia as in the more southern states.

“I think down south there will be violence.” Arthur wasn’t alone in his thinknig on this point.

G. M. Hammack of 310 Morris St., a chemical operator, agreed that sentiment will be different here than in some states.

“In some of the state where they have segregation in schools, the situation may be bad.”

But, in Hammack’s opinion, this won’t be true in Kanawha County.

“I don’t think Kanawha county will meet the issue with an uproar,” he said.

Elmer Haston of 314 1/2 Wyoming St., a guard, said the ruling was “the best thing of the century” for Negroes.

“I really think it’s a great thing. A great boost to the Negro race,” he said.

“I am sure we won’t have trouble in West Virginia working the procedures out. I wish all states were in the same position.”

All of those who talked to the Inquiring Reporter agreed that this state is more ready to accept the change than are some of the others.

And one expressed the opinion that much will depend on the acceptance of responsibilities by Negroes and whites.

Paul Steinbicker of 1503 Bedford Rd., a personnel manager said:

“There won’t be much difficulty in West Virginia making adjustments.

“However, it will require education to responsibilities on the part of everyone concerned in the change.”

Edward O’Dell of Pinch, a Charleston dental laboratory technician, said he doesn’t think West Virginia will comply without trouble.

“I’m afraid it won’t work out. There will be too many ruckuses.”

He said two or three other states may have more trouble, but there will be enough in West Virginia. “Separate and adequate schools still seems the answer,” he said.

African Americans

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