|Date(s):||May 16, 1960|
|Tag(s):||New Orleans, Desegregation|
|Course:||“United States Since 1945,” Rollins College|
The article "U.S. Court Orders New Orleans To Start Pupil Integration in Fall: Outlines Grade-a-Year Plan After Board's Refusal to Present Own Proposal INTEGRATION SET IN NEW ORLEANS was written by Claude Sittons and published on the New York Times on May 17, 1960. The article states thaton May 16, 1960 Federal District Judge J. Skelly Wright set September as the deadline for New Orleans to start desegregating schools. The order went out shortly after the board refused to present a desegregation proposal. The order was a threat to the continuation of public schools because it conflicted with Louisiana’s anti-desegregation law. New Orleans had become the first city in the Deep South to choose between compliance and closing schools. Furthermore, Judge J. Skelly Wright also outlined a grade-a-year for the Orleans Parish School Board. The Parish School Board had been told on February 15, 1956 to desegregate but had failed to do so.
In his order, he mandated that at the beginning of the school year in September all public schools should desegregate according to plan, which stated that:
The plan allowed desegregation to progress upward one grade each year and gave the school board considerable latitude on administrative details. Nonetheless, the court could make the plan more specific at anytime.
Joe Skelly Wright was born on January 14, 1911 in New Orleans. He attended public schools his whole life and earned a law degree. Lawyer Wright had notable jobs however, after a postwar sting in private practices in Washington D.C. , he moved back to New Orleans and became the United States Attorney. In that office he witnessed a group of blind people across the street being escorted to different Christmas Eve parties based on their skin color. Still impacted by the scene, thirty years late he told Jack Bass: “ the blind couldn’t segregate themselves… There was somebody else doing it for them... It began to make me think more of the injustice, of the whole system I had taken for granted… That was the beginning really.”
In 1949, President Truman made J. Skelly Wright a federal trial judge. He was only thirty-eight years old, making him the youngest in the nation. William J. Brennan Jr., a close friend of J. Skelly Wright, wrote that Wright’s most notable decisions were greeted with “harsh and bitter injective.” Criticized for exceeding his proper role, he was charged as an “activist judge,” also defined as a judge who “believes that the judicial power should be made creative and vigorously effective.” Unlike Justice Holmes who believed judges should “hold a tight rein on humanitarian impulse and compassionate action, stoically doing their best to discover and apply already existing rules”, Wright believed judicial process demanded more because “constitutions, statuses, and precedents rarely speak unambiguously, a just choice between competing alternatives had to be made to decide concrete cases”. 
Moreover, Judge J. Skelly wright considered the equality principle as the “rock upon which our constitution rests,” and before 1962, he had already issued forty-one rulings towards equality. In 1950, he ordered Louisiana State University to admit black law students and in 1957 he ordered desegregation in New Orleans’ bus and streetcar system. Moreover, correlating with the newspaper article, in 1956 he ordered desegregation for the public schools in New Orleans, where according to colleague, Patricia M. Wald, he proclaimed that the magnitude of the problem of changing people’s mores did not nullify the principle that everyone was a freeborn Americans. Although his actions meant well, as a consequence, Judge Wright received death threats, lost friends, and was protected day and night by federal marshals.
From 1877 to the mid 1960s Jim Crow laws were practiced throughout the United States, mainly in the south. These laws made whites feel superior and turned African-Americans into second-class American citizens, more importantly, it enforced segregation. It wasn’t until the Brown ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that a new era of civil rights protests were African Americans were determined the social order that was based on race and discrimination. The ruling, which happened in Washington D.C., on May 17 1954 by the U.S. Supreme Court, stated that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. It was because this ruling that in 1956 Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered New Orleans Parish School Board to design a plan to desegregate schools. Many in the community opposed the order and it took four year until it was put in place. Finally on November 14, 1960 four girls integrated the schools, although they had to be protected by United States Marshals. Unfortunately this event and Judge Wright’s order and were not taken lightly and soon after riots erupted throughout the city followed by parents enrolling their children in private schools
This newspaper article is an example of the events happening during the 1960s. It demonstrates the efforts towards the desegregation during the civil rights movements as well as the reactions by the whites. Although it is a small sample, it explains current events that were happening throughout the United States.
 Bill Monore, et al., In Memoriam: J. Skelly Wright, 1988, 370-371.
 Bill Monore, et al., In Memoriam, 361-362.
 Bill Monore, et al., In Memoriam, 363-371.
 David A. Horowitz and Peter N. Carroll, On The Edge: The Unites States Since 1945 (California: Wadsworth, 2002), 107.
 Horowitz and Carroll, On The Edge, 178.