Date of Graduation

1-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Jeannie Whayne

Committee Member

Patrick Williams

Second Committee Member

Jim Gigantino II

Keywords

Arkansas, Bishop Albert Fletcher, Integration, Parochial Schools

Abstract

This thesis examines the continued segregation of parochial schools in the Little Rock Catholic Diocese after the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The thesis compares the failure of the parochial schools in Little Rock to integrate to the success of integration in Arkansas’s southern neighbors, St. Louis and New Orleans. In those cities, integration occurred after the appointment of new head prelates who threatened excommunication when confronted with segregationist protests and threats of violence. Bishop Albert Fletcher, the head of the Little Rock Diocese, has been perceived as supportive of integration efforts and aligned with his fellow southern prelates. This thesis concludes that Bishop Fletcher’s reputation is inaccurate as no efforts were made to integrate parochial schools, beyond token integration, until his retirement in 1972. The Little Rock Diocese’s defense of segregation was not in accord with the actions of other southern dioceses and provided a means whereby the white population could avoid federally mandated racial integration.

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