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Mon, 05.27.1968

Green v. School Board of New Kent County is Decided

*On this date in 1968, Green v. School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430, was decided.  This was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with the freedom of choice plans created to avoid compliance with the Court's mandate in public school segregation, Brown II.  

The Court held that New Kent County's freedom of choice plan did not constitute adequate compliance with the school board's responsibility to determine a system of admission to public schools on a non-racial basis. The Supreme Court mandated that the school board formulate new plans and steps towards realistically converting to a desegregated system. 

Green v. County School board of New Kent County was a follow-up of Brown v. Board of Education.  NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers argued, prepared the petitioners' case, and presented their arguments. Frederick T. Gray represented the school board, and Louis F. Claiborne served as amicus curiae

While the Court did not rule that all "freedom of choice" plans were unconstitutional, it did note that they tended to be ineffective at desegregating a school system and held that in New Kent County's case, the freedom-of-choice plan violated the Constitution.  To comply with the Court's mandate, the school board separated the New Kent and George Watkins schools by grade level rather than race. The Watkins School became George W. Watkins Elementary School, and New Kent became New Kent High School.  

During May 2018, several events took place in New Kent County, VA, to celebrate 50 years since the Supreme Court's ruling on the case. The Green V. County School Board of New Kent organizations has a list of the events.  Also, in 2018, the Library of Virginia honored Calvin Coolidge Green, pastor, soldier, educator, civil rights activist, and father of named plaintiff Charles Green, as one of its Strong Men and Women.   

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