The concept a segregation academy is interesting to me because it imputes a motive to people's actions that (at least in some cases) they do not themselves admit. For instance, this 2002 newspaper article indicates that even at that date there were competing understandings of the reason that particular schools in Alabama were founded:

There are dueling versions of what spawned and perpetuated the academies. Generally, they fall along racial lines. Whites insist that quality fueled their exodus. Blacks say that's a bunch of hooey, that white parents refused to allow their children to be schooled alongside blacks and certainly not to be outnumbered in the classrooms of counties with 70 percent to 80 percent black populations.

Within the context of that dispute, I am curious whether there were schools founded in the relevant period—between Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and Runyon v. McCrary in 1976—that are not regarded as segregation academies; or whether, on the other hand, the term is applied generally to schools founded in that period in the South.

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    The odds that there is not one single school founded across 22 years in the South for reasons other than race seem pretty slim.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 16 at 13:37
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    I'd go the other way there. No matter what the founders felt their motivations were, post Brown there's no way to separate a successful private school from the White Flight impetus. Parents send their kids there to keep them out of their designated public school. The odds of none of those parents being influenced by racial thinking is near 0, and even it it weren't it would be impossible to prove it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 16 at 13:52
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    @MCW I'm not sure the question needs clarification, but presumably it would need to be the judgment of someone who was willing to characterize some schools as segregation academies but not others (i.e., not someone who believes that all schools from that period or no schools of that period are segregation academies).
    – adam.baker
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:12
  • It's difficult to prove X doesn't exist. Without a comprehensive list of private schools that admitted black students with location and year founded, I doubt this answerable. An article states: "Before desegregation, there were about 100 boarding schools for African American students throughout the country." If any of those were technically founded during the stated years and in hatever the OP considers a Southern state, presumably that would count?
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:14
  • @T.E.D. - given that there were black-founded Waldorf schools (even before 1954) I'd say there are quite likely successful private schools founded for other reasons.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 16 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


Contrary to my comment above, this topic has been studied, and the answer is suggested in the relevant Wikipedia page

A 1972 report on school desegregation noted that segregation academies could usually be identified by the word "Christian" or "church" in the school's name.[10] The report observed that while individual Protestant churches were often deeply involved in the establishment of segregation academies, Catholic dioceses usually indicated that their schools were not meant to be havens from desegregation.[10] Many segregation academies claimed they were established to provide a "Christian education", but the sociologist Jennifer Dyer has argued that such claims were simply a "guise" for the schools' actual objective of allowing parents to avoid enrolling their children in racially integrated public schools.[11][12] Wikipedia:Segregation Academy

I'd have to do some more research to identify Catholic schools founded during the time period, but let's assume the contrary - if there were no Catholic schools founded during this interval, then OP's question would be answered. But I think that answer would be (IMHO )misleading, because it would obscure the fact that parents had a private, high quality, education option.

The Wikipedia article goes on to outline the legal actions that attempt to further define the term.

SouthernEducation.org helps to bound the problem slightly:

From the mid-1960s to 1980, as public schools in the Deep South began to slowly desegregate through federal court orders, private school enrollment increased by more than 200,000 students across the region—with about two-thirds of that growth occurring in six states: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

I wasn't able to find a simple list of all schools founded in the South in either timeframe (OP's timeframe or the SouthernEducation.org timeframe), but that quite might help to scope future research

Not a good answer, but at least points in the direction of further research.

  • > "Catholic dioceses usually indicated that their schools were not meant to be havens from desegregation." - This tells us nothing... The relevant question is whether they actually admitted significant numbers of black students. Is there any indication of this?
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:41
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    From my limited personal experience, Catholic schools are highly integrated, but I haven't studied for the region under question. I think the answers can be found by following the links in the WIkipedia page. - Given that the term is inherently political, the issue will fairly quickly devolve into legal cases and IRS rulings. That data exists. I'll be very happy if someone can provide a better answer than mine
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:54
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    I considered Catholic schools before posting the question, and almost included this in the OP. If you follow up the source, the claim given in the report is actually somewhat different: "While monitors report that Catholic dioceses have frequently made public pronouncements that their schools would not become havens for fugitives from de- segregation, individual Protestant churches in most cities have participated in and often led the private school movement during desegregation."
    – adam.baker
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:59
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    This would mesh with the vibe I've always gotten. I actually graduated from my town's top private school, which was (and still is) nominally affiliated with the Episcopal church, but its not in the name and almost never came up while I attended. There are a few other similar schools in town that are almost as good, and then there's a slew of other schools that IMHO are worse academically than the local magnet schools, have "Christian" in the name, and just always seemed like places certain people sent their kids to hide them from the real world.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:39
  • @MCW - FWIW, the school in town I'd consider a close second after mine is Catholic affiliated. (My sister graduated from that one). There's another large Catholic school in town that I'd consider to be in a middle ground between those two poles. Its not as good as our city's top public magnet school, but probably better than most other public high schools in the city. It has "Bishop" in the name. Both of the previous two have no religious words in their name at all (they do both have the word "Hall").
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:47

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