A Girl Stands at the Door

The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's Schools


By Rachel Devlin

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A new history of school desegregation in America, revealing how girls and women led the fight for interracial education

The struggle to desegregate America’s schools was a grassroots movement, and young women were its vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents began to file desegregation lawsuits with their daughters, forcing Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights lawyers to take up the issue and bring it to the Supreme Court. After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, girls far outnumbered boys in volunteering to desegregate formerly all-white schools.

In A Girl Stands at the Door, historian Rachel Devlin tells the remarkable stories of these desegregation pioneers. She also explains why black girls were seen, and saw themselves, as responsible for the difficult work of reaching across the color line in public schools. Highlighting the extraordinary bravery of young black women, this bold revisionist account illuminates today’s ongoing struggles for equality.



ON THE MORNING OF APRIL 13, 1947, fourteen-year-old Marguerite Daisy Carr went with her father to Eliot Junior High School, the white middle school closest to her home in Washington, DC, and attempted to enroll. The principal, tipped off that she was on her way, met her on the steps. As she stood facing him, the white students pressed up against the windows to see what would happen. Across the street, teachers, students, janitors, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), and the principal from Carr’s black middle school, Browne Junior High, lined the sidewalk. “To their minds it was something made up, something fantastic. But here this child is just coming on,” Carr, now Marguerite Carr Stokes, remembers. In gauging this situation, she relied on what her parents had taught her about how to behave in the presence of adults. “And so,” she says, “I smiled nicely, because I knew how to act in polite company.” When the principal told her “you don’t want to come here,” she responded, respectfully but firmly: “I do want to come to this school.” Carr’s response met the contradictory requirements inherent in such confrontations. She smiled, a sign of social reciprocity, trustworthiness, a willingness to engage. On the other hand, she combatively, courageously talked back to a white adult, announcing her intention to break down the legal strictures and social customs that barred her from the newly built citadel of learning two blocks from her home.1

Marguerite Carr and her father, James C. Carr, sued Eliot Junior High, and her lawsuit, Carr v. Corning, was one of almost a dozen school desegregation cases—most of them now forgotten—that were initiated in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Because these complaints originated with students and parents in disparate communities, they took shape in individual ways. However, they share a striking feature: all save one of the early school desegregation lawsuits, which would pave the way for the cases that became Brown v. Board of Education, were filed on behalf of girls. Young women and girls, almost exclusively, attempted to register at white schools, testified in court, met with local white administrators and school boards, and talked with reporters from both the black and white press. This disparity held true in the Deep South, upper South, and Midwest.2

After the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board in 1954, the pattern continued: in the most contested school desegregation battles in the Deep South, girls and young women vastly outnumbered boys as the first to attend formerly all-white schools. In Little Rock in 1957, six girls and three boys famously went forward as the Little Rock Nine. In New Orleans in 1960, four girls entered the first grade at previously all-white schools. In 1963, seven girls and three boys desegregated the lower and upper schools in Charleston, South Carolina, and in the same year twenty-two girls and six boys desegregated the high schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Albany, Georgia—site of intense civil rights protests and the mass jailing of young people in the early 1960s—six young women desegregated Albany High School in 1964. Whether applying to graduate schools in the 1940s, filing lawsuits with their parents in the immediate postwar years, or volunteering to desegregate high schools in the Deep South after Brown, girls and young women disproportionately led the way in the battle to desegregate American public schools in the mid-twentieth century.3

School desegregation could not have happened without those who were willing to put themselves forward—the “guinea pigs,” as they sometimes called themselves—willing to incur the wrath of local white officials and at times backlash from within their own communities. Shifting the lens from the legal arguments against segregation and the lawyers who made them reveals what has heretofore been invisible: the largely young, feminine work that brought school desegregation into the courts, that helped make school desegregation central to the American political imagination of the postwar period and, with less success but equal meaning, that made integrated schools possible.4

The story that has been told about Brown is that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was the engine behind the cases: desegregation cases began to be filed in 1950 only after the NAACP made them its top priority, litigants were recruited and vetted, and many if not most plaintiffs were prevailed upon by NAACP lawyers to file desegregation cases. Following Richard Kluger’s timeline in his magisterial 1975 book Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality, the history of Brown is told—in countless museum exhibits and textbooks—as a story that began in Clarendon County, South Carolina, with Briggs v. Elliott, then took a detour through Texas with the law school case Sweatt v. Painter, found its way to a Charleston federal appeals court, where Judge Julius Waties Waring contributed a galvanizing dissent in 1951, and then proceeded with cases in Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, and Washington, DC, all filed between 1949 and 1951.5

Much about this tidy conceptualization, however, is belied by the geography of the many previously unknown postwar cases and the manner in which they came to the attention of the NAACP. Indeed, the NAACP had little to do with the sudden rash of cases that presented themselves all at once in the aftermath of World War II. As Thurgood Marshall complained in 1968,

People are not yet convinced that we never had a program… from the beginning to the end there was no plan on any of these cases. None. The best proof of it is that once we won the law school and the graduate school the next case should have been college, then junior college, then high school, then elementary school. It ends up the next case was elementary school. Well obviously there was no plan. And we, we were kind of peeved. We didn’t really want it. We didn’t want it, but we had it. We wanted to bring it down, bring it down one to the other.… We had been going at it this long, lets take a couple more years. Then all of a sudden, here we go.

Indeed, Brown v. Board was the end result of an onslaught of unsolicited cases, initiated by parents and students, which came as a surprise to the national office and ultimately convinced NAACP lawyers to litigate on the grade school level. The road to Brown was a grassroots movement spearheaded by girls and young women, whose words, actions, and public commitment brought school desegregation to the fore in the postwar era. These girls and young women legitimized school desegregation in the eyes of an often dubious public and then volunteered to be “firsts” at formerly all-white schools in the early 1960s.6

After World War II, municipalities faced a dire need for better school facilities, and across the country bonds were issued to finance construction, with new schools opening their doors in 1947 and 1948. Black students found themselves excluded from the building boom, and black schools—always underfunded—looked even shabbier by comparison to the sleek, modern accommodations increasingly available for their white counterparts. African American parents and students responded with a range of protest tactics, including picketing in front of inadequate black schools, staging walkouts, filing equalization suits (in which boys made up a slight majority of plaintiffs), and going to white schools to announce their intention to immediately enroll. Arriving at the schoolhouse door was the more radical approach: It made for good theater and announced a sense of ownership over existing state institutions. It also conveyed a profound sense of urgency, suggested immediate alternatives to the status quo, and forced white school officials and parents to face racial inequities they preferred to ignore. Such moments of confrontation also yielded results. Long-awaited improvements to black schools were often procured in the aftermath of a “school visit.” But the goals of these visits and subsequent lawsuits were more far-reaching. Attempting to walk into a white school was not only bold, it also announced the presumption of full equality and integration, no matter how futile the gesture might have seemed at the time. The trip to the front office—or however far one got—was just the beginning, and white officials could not pretend otherwise. Notice had been served.7

The 1940s was an exciting and propitious time to play a role in the fight for school desegregation. Membership in the NAACP, founded in 1909 by a small, interracial group of activists to fight for racial justice, surged during the war years, creating an organization with tens of thousands of members stretching from Maine to California. The organization was composed of individual branches, both small and large, each of which exercised a fair amount of autonomy in tackling local issues, from teacher salaries to securing representation for criminal trials to housing discrimination. Field officers from New York fanned out across all regions to spread news from the main office and gauge the animating concerns and activities of its members. At the same time, the organization held fast to its defining goals: antilynching legislation, equality before the law, equal pay and educational opportunities, voting rights, the enforcement of fair labor contracts, and the eradication of Jim Crow. Legal and legislative battles—as opposed to street protest or boycotts—were the driving force of the organization. In 1939, the NAACP established the Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.—at first called the “Inc. Fund” and later referred to as the LDF—as a separate entity within the NAACP. While the larger organization worked on legislative action against lynching and promoted antidiscrimination in the military, war industries, and federal programs, the LDF pursued constitutional protections and civil rights in the courts. By the late 1940s, discrimination in education was the LDF’s most prominent pursuit.8

Charles Hamilton Houston, a “radical visionary” who led the legal division of the NAACP in the 1930s, laid the groundwork for the legal campaign for school equity and desegregation that would blossom after World War II. He made his mark in the field of education when he argued in front of the Supreme Court to have Lloyd Gaines admitted to the University of Missouri Law School. In Gaines v. Canada, the court decided that states must provide graduate education for black applicants “as soon as it does for all other residents.” The 1938 ruling helped ignite the long battle to desegregate American schools from top to bottom. In 1936, Houston hired Thurgood Marshall to help with the growing caseload of the LDF. When Houston moved to Washington, DC, in 1939, Marshall became the first director counsel for the LDF in New York. Marshall won a series of high-profile cases in the 1940s, including Alston v. School Board of City of Norfolk, a salary equalization suit for public school teachers; Smith v. Allwright, a Supreme Court decision outlawing the exclusion of black voters in primaries in Texas; and Shelley v. Kraemer, another Supreme Court victory that rendered “restrictive covenants”—legally binding agreements between white neighbors not to sell homes to African Americans—illegal.9

World War II was a political watershed for African American men. After returning from the front, many veterans risked their lives attempting to vote in the South. The “feeling,” as historian Neil Wynn puts it, was “that participation in the war effort would be rewarded.” Black men made huge strides in attaining greater parity for the race as a whole after the war: they held elected offices, desegregated baseball, ascended the ranks of the Democratic and Republican parties, became presidents of academic associations, and held presidential appointments. Meanwhile, with his eye firmly on the black voting bloc in the North, President Harry Truman convened the first panel to investigate the state of civil rights in the United States. Black men famously went on to lead a range of protest movements in the fifties and sixties. African American men—young and old—would make up two-thirds of the rank-and-file Freedom Riders in the 1960s. Young men and boys would also lead high school walkouts and protests in the late sixties, demanding the adoption of black history curricula, the creation of black student unions, and reforms to dress codes.10

For many girls and young women, school desegregation was their call to arms, a mission they felt to be their own. Those who participated uniformly shared a perception that segregated public schools were a political and moral crisis. In 1988, then Detroit mayor Coleman Young asked Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher why she agreed to “become the guinea pig” in the case that led to the desegregation of the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1949. Wasn’t she aware that the state would resist with all of its resources, that there could be intimidation, harassment, and even physical harm? “Look,” she responded, “the law was wrong.” Doris Raye Jennings Brewer and Doris Faye Jennings Alston, twins who attempted to desegregate a high school in rural Texas as teenagers in 1947, used the word “natural” to describe their youthful commitment. “I just thought it was the natural thing to do and it had to be done,” Brewer says. “Like mopping the floor. Some things need to be done and to us that was one of the things that needed to be done to get to the next place.” Marguerite Carr Stokes uses almost identical language when reflecting on her lawsuit: “Somebody has to step up. And I was the one to step up. So I stepped up. It [was] not idealistic… we were taught that… if you see something needs to be picked up, pick it up!” In looking back, these women likened their desegregation lawsuits more to a household chore than a political salvo. There is a nagging sense of personal responsibility in their words, one that exists separately from self-interest—an obligation incurred as a (female) member of a household or community. These women perceived their actions as those of a person who, because she has seen an injustice, has incurred a burden. The obligation to correct a profound inequity appeared obvious, natural, “not idealistic.” At the same time, it is not insignificant that these women invoked domestic chores to describe the work they were doing. It is possible that they felt an obligation to their race that stemmed from their sense of themselves as women.11

One way to understand young women’s disproportionate sense of obligation to school desegregation is to compare it to similar feelings inspired in young men during World War II. These girls and young women felt an ethical compulsion to act at a young age—just like those boys (some of whom were not yet eighteen) who went and signed up for the army after Pearl Harbor. They were called to fight both by the government draft and by their own conscience. Similarly, there was, in the post–World War II era, a strong, though unstated, cultural assumption that the war to end school desegregation was a girls’ war, a battle for which young women and girls were especially suited. Some girls were drafted, others volunteered, but in general girls were influenced by a pervasive sense that they were obligated to participate in this struggle. The faith placed in them by adults and their own commitment helped them to fight to desegregate the schools and, once inside formerly all-white schools, to survive.12

Indeed, many saw desegregation firsts as soldiers. In some cases, adults enlisted girls to fight for school desegregation by using martial analogies. Melba Pattillo Beals, who desegregated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957, writes in her memoir that after a particularly violent and demoralizing day at school, her grandmother found her crying. “This will be your last cry,” her grandmother said, “because you are a warrior… [and] warriors don’t cry.” Other plaintiffs and desegregation firsts remember their mothers and fathers giving them similar directives: to be tough, to hold back tears, to be stoic in the face of physical and psychological violence. Many desegregation firsts who volunteered also thought of themselves as soldiers in a war that they had chosen to fight. Rubye Nell Singleton Stroble, who desegregated Albany High School in 1964, remembered, “I never felt afraid… it was just like… when you see people [who] know they’ve got a job to do. Just like those people—they go in the war and fight.… They go over there to fight for their country! Well, same sense. I’m going for equal rights, equal opportunities.… And regardless of the outcome, that’s what you go for.”13

Girls as young as six exhibited a sense of obligation to lead, no matter the consequences, danger, or pain inflicted. NAACP field organizer Jean Fairfax was still marveling, twenty years after the fact, over a young girl she encountered in Leake County, Mississippi, in the mid-1960s. The night before the schools were to be integrated “the whites went out and harassed everybody.” Everyone backed out except one family; they were still considering their options when Fairfax sat down at their kitchen table to speak with them. “There was this silence” Fairfax remembers, “then the daughter, Deborah, who was 6, said, ‘Well, what’s everybody waiting for, I’m ready to go.’” Gail Vavasseur Jones, who desegregated Baton Rouge High School in 1963 over the objections of her mother, recalls, “I just felt in my heart, in my soul, that it was something I had to do. I had to do. If I didn’t do it, who was going to do it?”14

Though the desegregation of America’s public schools may seem a self-evident objective, in the 1940s and early 1950s it remained a radical, divisive idea. There was no consensus about how best to attack educational inequality. Segregated schools existed in almost every state—even in states where segregation was prohibited. A range of laws governed the racial practices of school boards. Some state constitutions made no mention of separate schools, such as California, Iowa, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Other states, including Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, banned separate schools. A third group—Indiana, New York, Wyoming, and Kansas—had “permissive” laws on school segregation, meaning that counties and cities were permitted to segregate as they saw fit. Finally, there were the states that made school segregation mandatory: all of the states of the former Confederacy as well as Arizona, Delaware, and Washington, DC. Though some states had no laws concerning segregation and others prohibited it, de facto segregation existed, in some form, in every state. For example, New Jersey, where segregation was outlawed, and California, where it was not mandatory, still had extensively segregated schools throughout the twentieth century.15

Since the end of the Civil War, American grade schools had been an arena of ongoing litigation, including lawsuits filed by African American, Mexican, Chinese, and Native American students. Between 1865 and 1935, 113 recorded legal cases involving school segregation and inequality were filed in twenty-nine states. Parents and students sought to contest segregated schools, they sued to stop school boards from allocating funds to a white school when there was no appropriation for black schools, and they filed lawsuits to “obtain identical facilities” for “colored students.” In many places, there were simply no schools—especially high schools—for black students. In California in the nineteenth century there were segregated grade schools for black and white students, but none for Chinese students.16

Prior to World War II, most school cases were filed by fathers (as head of household) on behalf of their minor children. In cases where an adult sued on behalf of a single plaintiff, or a lead plaintiff who represented “others similarly situated,” girl plaintiffs outnumbered boys two to one. In the most prominent cases—those that were appealed to a state supreme court or the Supreme Court of the United States—girls were almost always the lead plaintiff. This preference for female school desegregation plaintiffs held true across age, region, and even race. The earliest school desegregation case, Roberts v. City of Boston in 1850, was filed on behalf of African American five-year-old Sarah Roberts, who had to pass several white schools close to her home in order to reach a school assigned to black students. In California in 1884 (Tape v. Hurley), and again in Mississippi in 1927 (Lum v. Rice), Chinese American parents filed lawsuits on behalf of daughters who wished to attend segregated white schools. The first successful school desegregation lawsuit in California was Mendez v. Westminster in 1947, filed on behalf of Sylvia Mendez and other Mexican children “similarly situated.” The plaintiff Mamie Tape (of Tape v. Hurley) was described in terms that foreshadowed descriptions of black girl plaintiffs in the mid-twentieth century. She was poised, friendly, and carefully dressed in Western attire for her day in court, with a large white bow at the end of her black braid. A white bow could signal many things: sexual innocence, cleanliness, a white flag in the midst of racial hostilities. Parents would want to convey all of those messages about their children to the white male judges who would be deciding their daughter’s—and by extension their race’s—educational future.17

There was enormous debate—starting in the 1930s and extending through the postwar era—over whether school desegregation or the equalization of facilities and teacher salaries was the better path forward. In a special issue of the Journal of Negro Education on segregation published in 1935, the famous black educator Horace Mann Bond looked at the history of school segregation since its inception and found that everywhere “the basis for the separate school is apparently an unwillingness of the white population to accept the Negro as a full participant in the life of our Democracy.” Segregation, he wrote, “has not been done because [black children] do not need any education… but because black children were deemed unfit associates of whites, as school companions.” Laws pertaining to school segregation noted the “unassimilability” of black children and excluded them “as one would take from a school those with measles or chicken-pox, or diphtheria.” The fear, everywhere, was that “black is catching.” Because racism predominated even in integrated schools, where black students were often made to sit in the back row or endure lectures on the inferiority of the race, “Negroes [were] willing,” he wrote, “to accede to the institution of separate schools as quickly as possible.”18

W. E. B. Du Bois, a founder of the NAACP and its most famous intellectual, lent his imprimatur to the notion that black schools should be valued as a form of protection for black children against white teachers who did not treat them like human beings, and that black children ought not to be used “as a battering ram” against segregation. (Though Du Bois did send his own daughter to a white boarding school.) Gladys Tignor Peterson, who wrote an overview of different approaches to segregated and unequal schooling, listed going North, seeking the ballot, and appealing “to the fair-mindedness” of one’s “white neighbors.” But, she wrote, “the process of educating both groups, each to a tolerance of the other, is a slow and tedious one.” It was this slow and tedious work that black girls were tasked with when they filed desegregation lawsuits and that they assigned themselves when they volunteered to desegregate schools after Brown. By approaching white universities, speaking with white officials, and engaging with white students on campuses in the 1940s; by testifying in court and responding to inquiring white reporters in the 1950s; and by choosing to enroll in previously all-white schools in the 1960s, girls and young women initiated and enacted school desegregation so that others might be able to envision themselves doing the same.19

In 2012, President Barack Obama hung the Norman Rockwell painting The Problem We All Live With in the West Wing of the White House, further cementing the painting’s important place in American history and culture. The painting—of a six-year-old black girl, dressed in white from the bow on her head to the shoes on her feet, and accompanied on her way to school by four US Marshals—is thought to be a depiction of Ruby Bridges. It is more likely a composite of the four girls who desegregated two schools in New Orleans in November 1960: Gail Etienne, Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost Williams, and Ruby Bridges. The small girl in white is contrasted with the ugly stains and graffiti on the wall behind her. Her head only reaches the men’s elbows. The sentimental appeal of the picture stems from the fact of witnessing a solitary, vulnerable black girl surrounded by large white men in the act of bridging a racial divide. But if the contemporary viewer sees this girl as innocent, it is important to point out that this is not how white Americans in the early 1960s South, and indeed much of the country, saw her.20

The most important difference between white and black girlhood in the mid-twentieth century—especially in the South—was that black girls were afforded none of the public protections that were extended to middle-class white girls, such as the assumption of dependence, the notion that children ought to be free of economic exploitation, or security from public violence and sexual harassment. Black girls were regularly targeted by gangs of white boys on the way to and from school. White men in the South were known to strike black girls if they did not give up their seats fast enough on a train or bus. The Ku Klux Klan—masked and robed—broke up a black Girl Scout meeting in Alabama in 1948 because some of the counselors were white. And when six black girls enrolled at Fremont High School in Los Angeles in 1947, they were kicked, punched, and spat on by both male and female classmates. Later, the students rioted and hung the girls in effigy. When Lydia and Sandra Nelson attempted to integrate a school in Indianapolis in 1947, and when a group of nine girls and four boys tried to enroll at a white school in East St. Louis in 1949, the white students responded with strikes, angry street protests, and physical threats. Any notion that black girls would somehow be more acceptable to whites, or that they would not provoke or be subjected to violence, ignores the facts as they were known and widely disseminated in the postwar era. When black girls desegregated high schools after Brown

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  • "Revelatory...Devlin reminds us that the task of publicly and constitutionally challenging racial discrimination in education was laid on the bodies of black girls. This is a reality with which America has yet to reckon."—New York Times Book Review
  • "[A] groundbreaking new work of recovered history...Devlin, a Rutgers University historian, spent ten years tracking down and interviewing dozens of women who endured harassment and abuse to desegregate schools, whether or not their lawsuits prevailed...Devlin's chronicle...promises to reignite public conversation and debate about racial disparities in public education."—Smithsonian
  • "Fascinating...Devlin is the first historian to demonstrate that, collectively, girls were the vanguard of the struggle against Jim Crow in education"—New York Review of Books
  • "Meticulous and emotionally resonant...Devlin paints compelling portraits of largely unknown desegregation pioneers...Her interviews with the many 'firsts'...are riveting, inspiring and dispiriting."—Ms.
  • "In her sweeping analysis...Devlin makes it clear what was at stake for these girls and why we must continue to remember their sacrifices."—Bitch Magazine
  • "This is essential American history-it's the history of how we got where we are, it's a history of how student activism changed the world by fighting against powerful forces...The book is about knowing the past and knowing your power." —Literary Hub
  • "[A] groundbreaking new work of recovered history... Devlin, a Rutgers University historian, spent ten years tracking down and interviewing dozens of women who endured harassment and abuse to desegregate schools, whether or not their lawsuits prevailed...Devlin's chronicle...promises to reignite public conversation and debate about racial disparities in public education."—Smithsonian
  • "The decade of work Devlin put into recovering this underappreciated aspect of civil-rights history is fully on display."—Booklist
  • "In this accomplished history of the school desegregation fight from the late 1940s through the mid-1960s, Devlin...offers a cogent overview of the legal strategies employed and delves into the stories of the African-American girls (and their families) who defied the ignominious public school systems of the Jim Crow South....Devlin's use of diverse secondary and primary sources, including her own interviews with some of the surviving women, bring fresh perspectives. This informative account of change-making is well worth reading."—Publishers Weekly
  • "A thoroughly researched, well-written work about civil rights, American history, and the momentum of political change that young people, particularly women, initiate."—Library Journal
  • "Before reading A Girl Stands at the Door I would have imagined that nothing new could be said about the struggle to desegregate schools--and I would have been wrong. Rachel Devlin has uncovered a neglected history of how parents and, importantly, children braved rejection, hostility, even assault to insist on their right to a decent education. Possibly most surprising, these courageous students were mostly girls, a finding that challenges some assumptions about risk-taking behavior. Not least, the book is a great read."—Linda Gordon, author of The Second Coming of the KKK
  • "Bold and unforgettable, the girls whose vivid portraits Devlin brings to life through priceless interviews should be household names for their moral courage and stalwart persistence in challenging segregated schools despite the personal costs. This book brings underrecognized female leadership in the black freedom struggle dramatically to the forefront, redrawing the known landmarks in that history."—Nancy F. Cott, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Harvard University
  • "A Girl Stands at the Door reveals black girls' under-appreciated role in the Civil Rights Movement. Devlin relates the stories of well-known child activists such as Ruby Bridges, as well as the stories of numerous other brave black girls whose names have been forgotten by many. The book follows black girls down the halls of schools from Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia. The stories unveil much about the struggles of black girls' daily lives and their steadfast determination to find a way in an often hostile world."—LaKisha Michelle Simmons, author of Crescent City Girls
  • "A Girl Stands at the Door forces us to view a central strand of civil rights history in an entirely new way. Rachel Devlin has discovered something that should have been in plain view but nonetheless has remained invisible - that girls and young women stood at the center of the massive effort to desegregate American schools. In this compelling, lucid, and deeply researched book, Devlin makes them into flesh-and-blood actors, whose words, initiative, and subtle everyday negotiations helped shape an important strand of American history."
    Kenneth Mack, professor, Harvard Law School and author of Representing the Race

On Sale
May 15, 2018
Page Count
384 pages
Basic Books

Rachel Devlin

About the Author

Rachel Devlin is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Learn more about this author