Monday, May 25, 2015

Pre-Brown v. Board of Education Desegregation Pioneer, George Haley, Dies by John Brittain

Former Ambassador George Haley died on May 13, 2015 at the age of 89. Haley was one of a group of first African Americans to integrate the University of Arkansas School of Law School at Fayetteville in 1948-49, and the second to graduate with a J.D. degree in 1952. 
While in law school, he initially suffered from tremendous racist oppression by fellow White students.  By the time Haley graduated from law school as a member of the law review, the Deep South White members of the bench, the bar and law review gave Alex a roaring applause of acceptance for his accomplishments at a banquet during graduation.  
Alex Haley, George’s brother, and the author of, “Roots: The Saga of the African American Family,” captured George’s ordeal in law school in a Readers Digest Magazine article in 1963. 
George quietly integrated the Arkansas Law School with the blessings of the university leadership ten years before James Meredith, the first African American student to integrate the University of Mississippi.  Meredith’s first day of enrollment required enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice, the federal courts and the National Guard that resulted in the death of two civilians and injuries to hundreds of other persons including federal law enforcement officers. This story offers a contrast in the desegregation of higher education.  
For a history of the first Black grads from that law school see, Judith Kilpatrick, “Desegregating the University School of Law: L. Clifford Davis and Six Pioneers,” THE ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY VOL. LXVIII, NO. 2, SUMMER 2009.

Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink


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