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Case Name Henry v. Clarksdale Municipal Separate School District SD-MS-0006
Docket / Court 2:64-cv-00028-MPM ( N.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Case Summary
This school desegregation case began in 1964 and appears to remain open in spring 2017. It involves the efforts to desegregate the Clarksdale Municipal Separate School District, now known as the Clarksdale Municipal School District (CMSD). Plaintiffs, black students and their families, filed the ... read more >
This school desegregation case began in 1964 and appears to remain open in spring 2017. It involves the efforts to desegregate the Clarksdale Municipal Separate School District, now known as the Clarksdale Municipal School District (CMSD). Plaintiffs, black students and their families, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi and argued that CMSD's geographic zoning system perpetuated a dual school system. The plaintiffs were represented by notable civil rights attorney Melvyn Leventhal.

The first district court opinion is not available digitally. However, the Court of Appeals opinion describes that the district court found the geographic zoning system did not desegregate schools, even though CMSD acted in good faith when drawing its attendance zones. 409 F.2d 682, 684 (5th Cir. 1969). As a result of the geographic zoning, not a single child in Clarksdale attended a school with students of a different race. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit to attend the all-white Clarksdale High School because they argued they were not receiving an equal education at the all-black high school, W.A. Higgins High School. The Fifth Circuit held that since the geographic zoning prohibited substantial integration, the CMSD school board had to consider redrawing its attendance zones, incorporating transfer provisions in its desegregation plan, closing all-black schools, consolidating and pairing schools, rotating school principals, or any other measures that could promote integration.

CMSD then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, which was denied. 396 U.S. 940 (1969). Apparently on remand, the district court disapproved CMSD's desegregation plan; in 1970, there were cross-appeals from that district court order. The Fifth Circuit held that CMSD had to create a desegregation plan for all grades in the school district starting in September 1970. The plan had to focus on the goal of producing a unitary system and a special master was to be appointed to ensure CMSD followed through with the court's order. 425 F.2d 698 (5th Cir. 1970). On remand, a special master wrote a report; the district court and then the Fifth Circuit approved that plan later the same year. 433 F.2d 387 (5th Cir. 1970). The desegregation plan focused on assigning elementary school students to schools outside of their home attendance zone and sending them to elementary schools in adjacent attendance zones.

The plaintiffs later requested to have transportation provided to students living more than one and a half miles from their assigned schools under the desegregation plan. The district court (in another unavailable opinion) granted the plaintiffs' request. This decision was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit. 480 F.2d 583 (5th Cir. 1973).

In 1978, the plaintiffs' attorneys sought an attorney fees award. The district court (in an unavailable opinion) held that the attorneys were not entitled to an award for any fees incurred before July 1, 1972. The plaintiffs' attorneys then appealed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. 579 F.2d 916 (5th Cir. 1978), reh'g en banc denied, 586 F.2d 842 (5th Cir. 1978), aff’d, 647 F.2d 1116 (5th Cir. 1981).

CMSD filed a motion on April 18, 1979 to dismiss the case. This motion was denied by the district court on July 19, 1979. Later that year, the plaintiffs filed a motion to have new representative plaintiffs (instead of plaintiff Henry) to maintain the class action lawsuit. This motion was granted on September 28, 1979.

Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, CMSD submitted annual reports to the district court. The court granted orders throughout this period regarding elementary student assignment, the creation of a biracial commission, and changing the CMSD attendance zones.

In 2013, CMSD filed a motion to amend/correct prior orders related to the desegregation of CMSD to allow for magnet school implementation. This motion was granted by District Judge Michael P. Mills on June 11, 2013. Judge Mills described how none of the plaintiffs were still living in Clarksdale in 2013 and how the magnet school implementation would not impact the racial balance in the schools because its objective was to improve the quality of education in Clarksdale. CMSD filed another motion to amend/correct prior orders related to the desegregation of CMSD to “allow certain changes in the magnet school program.” This motion was granted by Judge Mills on June 1, 2016.

This case appears to be ongoing as of March 2017; the district court retains jurisdiction over implementation of the desegregation order.

Available Opinions
Henry v. Clarksdale Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 409 F.2d 682 (5th Cir. 1969).
Henry v. Clarksdale Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 425 F.2d 698 (5th Cir. 1970).
Henry v. Clarksdale Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 433 F.2d 387 (5th Cir. 1970).
Henry v. Clarksdale Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 480 F.2d 583 (5th Cir. 1973).
Henry v. Clarksdale Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 579 F.2d 916 (5th Cir. 1978).

Amelia Huckins - 02/19/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Magnet school
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Zoning
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Education
Racial segregation
School/University policies
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Clarksdale Municipal Separate School District
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs were African-American students who wanted to enroll at the formerly all-white Clarksdale High School.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1970 - n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Desegregation: How It Happened in Clarksdale, Mississippi
By: Brian K. Hornbuckle (The University of Mississippi Student)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:64-cv-00028 (N.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0006-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/01/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:64-cv-28 (N.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (409 F.2d 682)
SD-MS-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/06/1969
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (425 F.2d 698)
SD-MS-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/15/1970
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (433 F.2d 387)
SD-MS-0006-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/12/1970
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (480 F.2d 583)
SD-MS-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/22/1973
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (579 F.2d 916)
SD-MS-0006-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/07/1978
Source: Westlaw
Motion to Amend Prior Orders Related to the Desegregation of the Clarksdale Municipal School District, to Allow the Implementation of "Magnet Schools" [ECF# 2]
SD-MS-0006-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion to Amend Prior Orders Relating to the Desegregation of the Clarksdale Municipal School District . . . [ECF# 5] (N.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2013
Source: Pro Publica
Judges Coleman, James Plemon (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0006-0003 | SD-MS-0006-0005 | SD-MS-0006-0006
Fay, Peter Thorp (S.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
SD-MS-0006-0006
Mills, Michael P. (N.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0006-0001 | SD-MS-0006-9000
Simpson, John Milton Bryan (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit, M.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0006-0003 | SD-MS-0006-0004 | SD-MS-0006-0005
Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (M.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
SD-MS-0006-0006
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0006-0002 | SD-MS-0006-0003 | SD-MS-0006-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Banks, Fred L. Jr. (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0006-0001 | SD-MS-0006-9000 | SD-MS-0006-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Cocke, John H. (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0006-0001 | SD-MS-0006-0007 | SD-MS-0006-9000 | SD-MS-0006-9001
Luckett, Semmes (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0006-9001
Maynard, William H (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0006-9001

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