August 31st, 1966
Alabama Forbids Local School Districts From Desegregating
A decade after the United States Supreme Court's 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education declaring racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, many school districts throughout the South still maintained segregated public schools. In 1964, the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which contained a provision that conditioned federal funding for school districts on integration.
In 1966, twelve years after Brown, the United States Office of Education issued regulations to segregated districts that provided guidance on school desegregation and required that segregated districts submit integration plans to the federal government. Noncompliant districts risked losing federal funds under the Civil Rights Act.
Alabama's legislature responded by passing a bill proposed by Governor George Wallace, forbidding Alabama school districts from entering into desegregation agreements with the federal government. At legislative hearings, representatives of Alabama’s teachers’ unions spoke against the bill and warned that it would put twenty-four million dollars of federal funding for Alabama schools at risk. Nevertheless, the bill passed the Alabama Senate almost unanimously on August 31, 1966, with only seven members voting against it. Shortly after, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill, and Governor Wallace signed it into law on September 9, 1966.
In the wake of the law’s passage, several Alabama school districts revised or rejected previously-negotiated desegregation plans.