In this episode of Talking Legal History, Siobhan talks with William P. Hustwit
about his book Integration Now: Alexander v. Holmes and the End of Jim Crow Education
(UNC Press, 2019). Hustwit is the Associate Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Birmingham-Southern College. Fifty years after the Supreme Court decision, Integration Now
explores how studying the case Alexander v. Holmes
(1969) enhances understandings of the history underlying school desegregation. This episode is part of a series featuring legal history works from UNC Press.
Recovering the history of an often-ignored landmark Supreme Court case, William P. Hustwit assesses the significant role that Alexander v. Holmes
(1969) played in integrating the South’s public schools. Although Brown v. Board of Education
has rightly received the lion’s share of historical analysis, its ambiguous language for implementation led to more than a decade of delays and resistance by local and state governments. Alexander v. Holmes
required “integration now,” and less than a year later, thousands of children were attending integrated schools.
Hustwit traces the progression of the Alexander case to show how grassroots activists in Mississippi operated hand in glove with lawyers and judges involved in the litigation. By combining a narrative of the larger legal battle surrounding the case and the story of the local activists who pressed for change, Hustwit offers an innovative, well-researched account of a definitive legal decision that reaches from the cotton fields of Holmes County to the chambers of the Supreme Court in Washington.
Support for the production of this series was provided by the Versatile Humanists at Duke program.
Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D. explores U.S. legal history at Duke University.