The problem of justice to the American Negro continues to be an acute one.
In secular circles the issues in debate pulsate between the poles of segregation and integration. Beyond doubt American conscience has been pricked repeatedly over the wrongness of race discrimination, disclosed most keenly in the bias that deprives the Negro of equal rights and thus implies his essential inferiority.
The reasons for pressures for swift solution are plain enough. Left to itself, the situation seemed to promise little in the way of improvement; the maintenance of “distance” between whites and blacks had gained sociocultural significance in the South. Whereas one might have expected Christian churches to lead the way to an era of improved relations, not a few were invoking the Bible, in circumvention of its emphasis on the equal dignity of men and on transcending racial distinctions in the body of Christ, to justify the status quo.
The months that have passed since the U. S. Supreme Court decision of 1954 have served only to emphasize the futility of forced solutions in the absence of high moral and spiritual conviction. Governor Faubus of Arkansas has questioned the high court’s “authority.” Others (too often implying that the mere passage of time will improve conditions) suggest that race relations are now worse than they were. More violence was predicted in Little Rock. Desertion of public schools for private schools has been promoted in some states to circumvent desegregation.
Perhaps the main occasion of rising tensions has been the drive for “integration,” a fuzzy term that covers a multitude of ambiguities and ambitions. Many a proponent of desegregation turns a puzzled glance at integration. Does forced integration preclude voluntary ...1
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