‘We are not merging on an equal basis’: the desegregation of southern teacher associations and the right to work, 1945–1977

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper examines the history of southern teacher association mergers during the Civil Rights Movement. Desegregated teacher associations promised opportunity for black educators during the transformation of public schools in the 1960s and 1970s. Southern black educators at the moment of desegregation controlled the mergers of their own associations and carried forth a civil rights agenda that protected the gains of the movement and the integrity of their professional labor. Threatened with widespread unemployment and the perils of working under white school officials committed to segregation, black educators defended their right to teach in a newly desegregated and volatile work environment. White teacher associations responded by pursuing a ‘right to work’ in desegregated schools that built upon the rhetoric of conservative and antiunion ideology. The perennial yet evolving tensions that underpinned the merger highlights the limitations of the Civil Rights Movement, which promised opportunity yet ironically put forth new forms of resistance that deprived black teachers of the equity they sought through desegregation. The conflict inherent to the merger of education associations provides a nuanced perspective by which to understand desegregation as it precipitated fractures and tensions still evident in the teaching profession today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-481
Number of pages19
JournalLabor History
Volume60
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • civil rights
  • desegregation
  • History
  • merger
  • right-to-work
  • teacher associations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of '‘We are not merging on an equal basis’: the desegregation of southern teacher associations and the right to work, 1945–1977'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this