New book draws attention to a forgotten hero of desegregationBreaking News
tags: Lloyd Gaines, desegregation
Many remember James Meredith, the first black person to enroll at the University of Mississippi. But Lloyd Gaines is not a name widely known or taught, though he was the plaintiff in a suit that led to a 1938 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that Missouri had to provide, in the state, an opportunity for black students to go to law school. Until then, Missouri had a policy of paying for black students like Gaines to attend law school out of state, rather than at the all-white University of Missouri law school. But while the Supreme Court ruling was in some sense a victory for black students, it also was a defeat. The court said Missouri could keep the law school for whites only as long as it created a comparable one for black students. The state opted for this option (although the new law school was hardly comparable). Gaines might have challenged the fairness of the state's new version of separate but equal, but he disappeared, literally, and no one knows for sure what happened to him.
As a result, he is largely absent from the focus of historians studying desegregation. A new book, Lloyd Gaines and the Fight to End Segregation (University of Missouri Press), seeks to tell the story of Gaines and his Supreme Court case. The authors are James W. Endersby, associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri at Columbia, and William T. Horner, a teaching professor of political science at Mizzou.
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