Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
The voluntary 1955-6 integration of the Hoxie, Arkansas, School District represents a significant yet often overlooked turning point in American race relations. Following the landmark Brown decision in 1955, the rural farming town’s School Board voted unanimously to integrate the district. Their rationale was threefold: Integrating the schools 1) complied with the law of the land, 2) saved money, and 3) was right in the sight of God. At first, the integration went without incident — a virtual anthesis to the Crisis at Central High that would follow. Yet a photo essay by Life Magazine, which hailed the integration as a “Morally Right Decision” and its early success, drew attention — and with it, ire and condemnation — from across the South, setting the stage for a fight over the first school integration in the Mississippi Delta. This exhibition examines the motives, character, and context of the individuals at the center of Hoxie’s integration and hopes to paint a more complex portrait of all involved.