The Work Continues: A timeline of the desegregation of Dallas ISD schools


To mark the 50-year anniversary of the order to desegregate Dallas ISD schools, this week we are celebrating the courage of Sam Tasby, the civil rights icon behind the lawsuit that led to the desegregation order.

The road to desegregation has taken many turns. Here is a recap of the journey that still continues today.

May 17, 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivers the unanimous ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, which found that the state-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment and was therefore unconstitutional.

Sept. 1954 – Dallas ISD Superintendent W.T. White declares that the Supreme Court opinion “was one of philosophy and policy and not a directive” and states that, “In Texas, the [state]Constitution prescribes segregation.”

Sept. 6, 1961 – 18 Black students enter white-only schools in Dallas ISD, the beginning of a Stair-Step Plan to desegregation and a response to an order of the Fifth Circuit Court to desegregate.

1967 Dallas ISD declares Dallas schools desegregated, although many schools, in reality, remain segregated.

Oct. 6, 1970 – Parent Sam Tasby files a lawsuit against Dallas ISD, saying that the district still operated a segregated school system prohibited under Brown v. Board of Education.

July 1971 – Federal Judge William “Mac” Taylor rules  that “a dual system” still exists and orders Dallas ISD to come up with a new plan to desegregate schools. The plan is published on July 23, 1971.

1970s-1980s Despite the order, court action and litigation continue, with other parties, including the NAACP, joining in.

August 1983 –The Dallas ISD school board ends its fight against court-ordered desegregation after the Fifth Circuit upholds a third desegregation plan by Judge Barefoot Sanders.

April 30, 1984 – The Fifth Circuit upholds Judge Barefoot Sanders’s order creating court-monitored Education Centers in Black neighborhoods. The Education Centers later become known as the South and West Dallas Learning Centers.

2003 Judge Sanders’ oversight ends when he declares the district desegregated, 49 years after Brown v. Board of Education.

2017 – Dallas ISD establishes the Racial Equity Office to address the ongoing racial disparities in the district.

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