The NAACP versus the 48 States
Two months after the Senate confirmed the Chief Justice’s appointment, on May 17, 1954, the Warren Supreme Court issued its revolutionary decision (Brown v. Board of Education)—a unanimous one—in the school-segregation cases.
What the Court did in that decision was not to settle the issue of segregation or integration of Negro and white pupils in the public schools. Racial issues are not settled by law—constitutional or otherwise. They are settled by time and the forbearance and patience of the people involved. One of the major human tragedies resulting from the Court’s decision is that an issue that was well on its way to solution—slowly, to be sure, in some places—will now plague us for many years to come, intensified almost beyond reason by the Court’s action.
But since ours is meant to be a government of law and not of men, the overwhelming tragedy for us all is that the Court, in its segregation decision, stormed one of those last remaining bastions of a free people we have previously mentioned—the locally controlled and supported public-school systems of the sovereign states. For, by that decision the Supreme Court handed to the central government a power it had never before possessed—the power to put its grasping and omnipotent hand into a purely local function. If the federal government can tell the public school in your town—whether in a northern, southern, western, or eastern state—who it shall or shall not admit, the next step is as logical as that winter follows fall. It will not be long before the socialist revolutionaries will have what they want—control by the central government of what to teach and what not to teach, how to teach it and how not to teach it in the public schools of America.
The legal defendants in the school cases were a few Southern states. But the real defendants were each and every one of the 48 sovereign states of the American Union and the Constitution they established for their own government.
The plaintiff who brought the cases before the Supreme Court is an organization known as the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People (NAACP). It is a fairly old organization which started out with the avowed purpose of securing justice for Negroes who were discriminated against because of their race. But in the last decade or two, coincident with the rising wave of left-wing activity in America, it has become extremely militant.
The NAACP has always denied vehemently that it is communist or communist-dominated. They may be correct. But we do know that the delicate and dangerous field of race relations has always been, and still is, one of the favorite hunting grounds for the communist agitator to bring about the tensions, hatreds, and distortions so essential to his aims. And we have a right to wonder about an organization like the NAACP—which so vehemently disclaims any communist connections—when the records of the House Committee on Un-American Activities over the past 15 years reveal communist, communist-front, fellow-traveling, or subversive organizations or activities on the part of the president, chairman of the board, honorary chairman, 11 of 28 vice-presidents, 28 of 47 directors, and a number of other officials. In February, 1958, Dr. J.B. Matthews, a leading authority on communist fronts, testifying before a state legislative committee, declared: “Public records show that 145 of the 236 persons, or 61 percent, listed as national officers of the NAACP have records of affiliation with communist organizations.”
The NAACP was started in New York City by five founders. One was a social worker and descendant of an old-time abolitionist—Miss Mary Ovington White. Another was a communist writer named William E. Walling. The third and fourth were Dr. Henry Moskowitz and Oswald Garrison Villard (the grandson of William Lloyd Garrison). The fifth—and only Negro founder—was W.E.B. DuBois, who remained, through the years, NAACP’s leading light. He had a communist-front record covering eight single-spaced typewritten pages. In 1957, President Eisenhower saw fit to send greetings to the NAACP, but his State Department was unable to issue a passport to DuBois because of his unsavory record.
This, then, was the plaintiff in the school-segregation cases. The defendants, as we have said, were the 48 sovereign states, each with its own locally controlled public-school system. The Supreme Court of the United States, under Chief Justice Warren, decided the cases in favor of the NAACP and told the 48 sovereign American states, in effect, that the federal government in Washington henceforth would set the standards of admission to their state schools.
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