From the Annals of the Bigots – In 1956, an angry white mob surrounded Mansfield High School to prevent the enrollment of three African-American students. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Texas Federal District Judge Joe Estes ordered the Mansfield ISD to desegregate. Mansfield was the first Texas school district to be directly affected by the Brown ruling. The school board approved a measure desegregating Mansfield High School. Mayor William Arnold “Bud” Halbert and Police Chief C.G. Harwell refused to comply with the school board’s decision and were instrumental in stirring up opposition.
And the opposition came. The white mob of about 400 people surrounded Mansfield High to prevent the enrollment of three African American students. Just in case their intentions were not clear, the good people of Mansfield hanged the three black high school students in effigy. They also attacked reporters and observers. Sheriff Harlan Wright attempted to confront the mob but was himself threatened.
Up to this point, African-American high school students in Mansfield were required to ride a bus into nearby Fort Worth and then walk twenty blocks to the all-black I.M. Terrell High School. Spineless Texas Governor R. Allan Shivers, doing his best imitation of a staunch segregationist, called out the Texas Rangers at Mansfield to prevent any black students from entering the public school. Shivers openly defied the federal court order for integration and authorized Mansfield ISD to continue to send its black students to Fort Worth. Mansfield did not integrate its schools until 1965.
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