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Integration to get underway in eight of Maryland's counties

Integration to get underway in eight of Maryland's counties, 1955 Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Integration To Get Underway in Eight Of Maryland's Counties

By Robert McHugh
The Cumberland Evening Times
September 2, 1955

At least eight of Maryland's 23 counties break with an age-old southern tradition next week and begin admitting Negro and white children to the same public schools.

In most instances, the historic step is being taken on a small scale with insignificant numbers of Negro children affected.

Throughout most of the State (in 13 of the 23 counties), schools will start the fall term on a segregated basis while education officials and citizens' committees continue to plot the most desirable course of complying with the Supreme Court decision ending segregation.

Garrett County, in the farthest reaches of Western Maryland, is in the unique position of having practically no Negro children.

Its position is in acute contrast to Calvert County, where slightly more than half the school children are Negro.

The Supreme Court decision makes integration of white and Negro pupils mandatory but leaves the method of bringing this about to local governments.

Counties acting this school term to take some steps toward ending segregation include Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Montgomery, Prince Georges' and Washington. Their Negro school populations range from 1.7 to 19.3 per cent.

The Eastern Shore counties below Cecil and the tier of Southern Maryland counties below Prince Georges, where the Negro population is heaviest, are making no effort to integrate this school year.

Baltimore County's integration program is the most sweeping in the entire State.

County School Superintendent Edward G. Stapleton said 28 of the county's 90 some schools will operate on an integrated basis this term, and the board of education has ordered complete integration of the entire system as soon as it is administratively possible.

As in the past, attendance will be based largely upon residence with exceptional cases being considered on their merits.

Negro children living in the proper attendance areas will be admitted to previously all white elementary schools in Arbutus, Back River, Baltimore Highlands, Berkshire, Chesapeake Terrace, Colgate, Cockeysville, Essex, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Districts, Fort Howard, Halethorpe, Loch Raven and Malden Choice.

Negroes also will be admitted to Mars Estate, Merritt Point, Oakleigh, Rodgers Forge, Rosedale, Sparks, Sussex, Villa Cresta, Catonsville, Dundalk, Hereford, Kenwood senior high schools and Hereford Junior High School.

A meeting at Hereford Wednesday night by a group protesting integration drew some 300 persons. The session was orderly and the crowd listened passively to arguments in favor of continued segregation.

Stapleton said no records were being kept of the number of Negro children being admitted to previously all white schools. Less than seven per cent of the school children in the county are Negro. Schools open in Baltimore County September 7.

Montgomery County's program is probably the most extensive with at least 22 schools operating on an integrated basis. However, only about 500 Negro children will enter previously all white schools.

The total enrollment anticipated when classes start September 12 is nearly 53,000 pupils. The percentage of Negro children is less than seven.

In neighboring Prince Georges' County, 34 Negro pupils will enter seven previously all white schools. The board of education approved their admission at a meeting last Tuesday night and deferred action on 52 other applications by Negro students for transfers to white schools. Two requests were rejected.

The board's integration policy provides that applications may be disapproved because of overcrowding or transportation difficulties.
School begins in Prince Georges County, where about 13.5 per cent of the pupils are Negro, on September 6.

When Washington County schools open on the same day, 73 Negro pupils will enter previously all white schools. School Superintendent William Brish said there will be no integration on a large scale in Hagerstown, the county seat, because of crowded conditions.

Special cases in Hagerstown will be determined on their individual merits, Brish said. For example, consideration would be given a Negro student desiring a special course not taught in the colored school.

The Negro pupils scheduled to attend previously all white schools in Washington County include 27 elementary school children and 46 high school students.

They will attend schools at Hancock, Williamsport, Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Keedysville, Yarrowsburg, and Sandy Hook. Of the county's school population, only two per cent is Negro.

In Anne Arundel County, where 19.3 per cent of the school population is Negro, only two special schools will open this term on an integrated basis.

They are the formerly all white school for cerebral palsy children at Millersville and a new school for trainable retarded children being established at Glen Burnie.

Carroll County School Superintendent Samuel M. Jenness said a limited number of Negro children will attend "certain schools" that were previously all white but it was not certain what schools would be affected.

He said the move would involve about a dozen or more of the county's 500 Negro pupils. Jenness said the Carroll County policy is for children to apply to him for transfers which are granted when it appears necessary.

He said only a very few applications were received. Schools open September 6, but the citizens committee which has been studying integration is not expected to report its findings until next month.

Consequently, Jenness said, no major effort to bring about integration can be expected for the opening of this term. Carroll County's Negro population is but 5.1 per cent of the whole.

In Cecil County, where the Negro pupil population is 6.1 per cent, one new school is scheduled to open on an integrated basis. This is the new elementary school on county-owned property at Bainbridge.

School Superintendent Morris W. Rannels said applications are being considered on their merits for transfers of Negro children to other previously all white schools. Schools open September 18 in Cecil County.

In Allegany County, where there are only about 270 Negro school children representing but 1.7 per cent of the total enrollment, integration is expected to proceed in conformance with the Supreme Court decision. A total of 54 Negro children have indicated they will attend previously all white schools.

Talbot County, with a Negro enrollment representing nearly a third of the school population plans no integration this year. But a citizens committee recommended that applications of Negro children for transfers to previously all white schools be acted upon favorably for the
1956-1957 school year.

The Board of Education said this would be done in cases where facilities permit.

In Howard, Harford, Caroline, Calvert, Worcester, Wicomico, St. Mary's, Somerset, Frederick, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, and Charles counties, there will be no attempt to begin this school-term with any integration of white and Negro pupils.

Howard County's Negro pupil population is 19.4 per cent of the total enrollment; Harford's is 10.5; Caroline's 22.5; Calvert's 50.1; Worcester's 36.8; Wicomico's 25.1; Somerset's 40.2; Frederick's 9.1; Dorchester's 32; Kent's 29; Queens Anne's 28.1; St. Mary's 30.2, and Charles' 45.3.

The figures are from last year's enrollment.


Used with permission of The Associated Press © 2007 All Rights Reserved.

Printed in the Cumberland Evening Times

The illustration is of Beall High School. In September 1955, 18 blacks enrolled at Beall High School. There were seven in the 11th grade, three in the 10th grade, four in the 9th and four in the 8th. Integration in Frostburg was complete. The "new" Beall High School had opened in January 1941. In 1969 a junior high school connected to the high school by a cafeteria was opened, and in 1984 the school was renovated with a new brick facing. A new high school, the Mountain Ridge High School, was constructed at the site and opened for the 2007 fall school term. The Beall High School, depicted here, was razed.

Postcard from the collection of Albert and Angela Feldstein


Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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