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Vanderbilt Law Review

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segregation, racial oppression, Brown v. Board of Education, Cecil Sims


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law


Every grassroots story complicates what we already know, and the history of Cecil Sims and his world48 stands out in at least two important ways. First, Sims's work on issues relating to segregated education predates Brown. In the late 1940s, as Southern states responded to Supreme Court decisions desegregating graduate education, Sims assumed a central role in developing nominally race-neutral proposals that involved a series of complex transactions and legal forms. Just as the Civil Rights Movement began years before Brown and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Sims is emblematic of the segregated South's "long history" of resistance to civil rights. Scholars have discussed how massive resistance moderated in the mid-1960s and assumed more race-neutral forms. But that transformation was not a simple story of evolution and reactive change, necessitated by passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the exigencies of litigation and its "chastening effect" after years of countering civil rights lawsuits, challenging statutes, and losing in court.' Sims's story suggests that the arguments that massive resistance mellowed into were there all along-lost in the glare, perhaps, but taking root in the shadows.



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