In its October 6, 1954 issue, the Southern Presbyterian Journal published a report from US News & World Report that suggested that black teachers in the South would be rendered unemployed by desegregation of schools following Brown v. Board of Education. It reads:

With an end to school segregation decreed for the South, Negro teachers there are coming up against a real question. It is this: Can they look to the Northern states for teaching jobs if these are wiped out by an integration of Negro and white schools in the South?

The answer, on the basis of the present use of Negro teachers in the non-segregated schools of Northern states, appears to be: No.

Negro leaders themselves are convinced that thousands of Negro teachers will go out of Southern schools with the end of segregation. They have seen this happen in many Northern communities, with the integration of schools. They expect to see it happen again in the South. (source)

The article argues that because the southern states had several times as many black teachers as the (non-segregated) state of New York, for example, that this would lead to a "loss of jobs" that would negatively impact both the teachers and the South in general.

The SPJ was opposed to forced desegregation, so it's not surprising that it ran this kind of report. But I'd like to know what actually happened over the years following Brown v. Board of Education. Did the number of employed black school teachers actually drop, in the South and/or nationwide? If so, how long did it take to recover to pre-desegregation levels?

  • Would the total number of (now integrated) students not still need the same total number of teachers?
    – DJohnM
    Jun 7, 2017 at 22:05
  • 3
    @DJohnM Perhaps some efficiencies of scale might reduce the total number of teachers required, but I suspect the bigger issue would have been in discriminatory hiring practices... just because the schools are integrated doesn't mean that school administrators will fairly evaluate black teachers in comparison to their white counterparts. Jun 7, 2017 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


Malcom Gladwell says they were fired.

I'm not sure that I am completely convinced; Gladwell has accused of allowing his bias to affect the story before. But it is quite plausible; the history of discrimination in America has always been to ensure that random ill effects fall on the minority, insulating the majority.

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