Interview with Paul Wilson
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

AS SOON AS WE GET SETTLED AGAIN THIS QUESTION WAS, WHY KANSAS.

Paul Wilson:

The question is often asked, as to why Kansas uh, adopted a policy of segregation in its elementary schools in certain cities. To me the answer is not very complex. Kansas has a tradition of freedom, but Kansas did not have any tradition of tolerance for minority groups. There were few black people in the state at the beginning of statehood. Along about 1880, there was a migration of several thousand black people to Kansas, from the states of the South. Uh, many of the whites that were living here then resented the presence of these minority groups in their communities. The result was that the legislature, in 1879, passed the law that was struck down in 1954. That law permitted boards of education in cities of the first class to maintain separate schools in the elementary grades only. Now that seemed—there were twelve or thirteen cities of the first class at that time—and it appears that the impact of that law would be fairly limited, but still, the black people were living mainly in the cities, and the black children were not going to school beyond uh, the elementary grades, usually. So really, the impact of the law on the blacks was pretty pervasive.