6.6.2 Deep South (1920-1965): The Slow Death of Jim Crow - The "Equal Means Equal" Campaign

Rice v. Arnold – Florida, 1950-51 (45 So.2d 195, 54 So.2d 114), vacated for reconsideration, 340 U.S. 848 (1950); State ex rel. Hawkins v. Board of Control – Florida, 1950 (47 So.2d 608); State ex rel. Lewis v. Board of Control – Florida, 1950 (47 So.2d 617)

  • The NAACP spent relatively little effort on its “equal means equal” campaign in the Deep South, perhaps recognizing that the chances of breaking the Jim Crow system were better in other parts of the South.  Not surprisingly, the only important Deep South cases to arise out of the campaign occurred in Florida, where, the NAACP tried to follow up its successes in Gaines and other law-school-admission cases (§§ ___).
  • In Hawkins and Lewis, Florida’s supreme court confirmed that the state could not avoid discrimination charges by paying black law students to attend out-of-state schools, but the court gave state officials time to set up a segregated law school.  In Rice the court held, much as its Kentucky counterpart had done the previous year, (§ __), that a public golf course could meet the “separate but equal” standard by reserving one day a week for black golfers and the remaining six days to whites.  On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court told the Florida court to reconsider in light of recent federal segregation decisions.  The Florida court stuck to its decision but recognized that in light of recent history, that decision might not stand for long.      

We … approach the problem in full recognition of the fact that the applicable parts of the Constitution are in process of re-definition; that they are being given a broader meaning than they were previously thought to have. … [the plaintiff] admits that [segregation] is not per se unlawful, yet he seeks a writ which would, if issued, make it impossible for the city to adopt any rule effectuating this admittedly lawful public policy.” – Justice R. Fenwick Taylor, in Rice


“In making provision for public education for its citizens, the State, in its discretion, may establish separate schools for whites and Negroes – indeed should and must do so where the state constitution and statutes so require – without being thought guilty of any infraction of the Federal law solely by reason of that fact … [I]t is so well settled as hardly to need citation of authority that equality of treatment need not mean identity of treatment.”  - Justice H. L. Sebring, in Hawkins