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Case Name Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District SD-MS-0030
Docket / Court No. 22527 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Special Collection Civil Rights Division Archival Collection
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
This school desegregation case was filed in 1963 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Plaintiffs, black students and their families, sought injunctive relief requiring the Jackson Municipal Separate School District to desegregate its public schools.

In an ... read more >
This school desegregation case was filed in 1963 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Plaintiffs, black students and their families, sought injunctive relief requiring the Jackson Municipal Separate School District to desegregate its public schools.

In an unavailable 1964 district court opinion, District Judge Sidney C. Mize approved a desegregation plan proposed by the School District. The plaintiffs then appealed and argued that the School District's plan was not in compliance with the 5th Circuit's minimum standards for desegregation, which required that schools integrate at a rate faster than one grade per year, new students in the school district could not be assigned to schools by race, both elementary and secondary schools had to be covered in the plan, dual attendance areas were banned, and African-American students had to be admitted to any schools that they were eligible for without regard to race. Armstrong v. Bd. of Educ. of Birmingham, 333 F.2d 47 (5th Cir. 1964); Davis v. Bd. of Sch. Comm'rs of Mobile Cty., 333 F.2d 53 (5th Cir. 1964); Stell v. Savannah-Chatham Cty. Bd. of Educ., 333 F.2d 55 (5th Cir. 1964). Because of the delays associated with appeals, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for injunctive relief pending appeal in June 1965 because they would not get the relief they sought before the 1965-1966 school year. The United States then intervened because it decided this case was of general public importance and would impact desegregation efforts throughout Mississippi and the region. The 5th Circuit held that the School District was required to submit a desegregation plan that would allow at least four grades to be integrated in the 1965-1966 school year in order for the U.S. Office of Education's target date of 1967 for full desegregation (and the ability to receive federal funding) to be possible in Jackson. The School District was instructed to create a plan in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act using the Office of Education's policies as a guide. 348 F.2d 729 (5th Cir. 1965).

Since the 1965 order granted only tentative relief, the 5th Circuit returned to the appeal the following year. The 5th Circuit evaluated whether the plan submitted by the School District after the 1965 order, which integrated grades 1, 2, 3, and 12 in 1965 and four grades in each succeeding year thereafter, was in compliance with U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) standards and the Jefferson decree, which held that school districts could no longer adopt freedom of choice plans because they did not produce unitary schools. United States v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Educ., 372 F.2d 836 (5th Cir. 1966). The United States objected to the School District's plan, but the 5th Circuit approved the plan because the plan met the HEW standards for desegregation. Additionally, the 5th Circuit held that it did not "require immediate total desegregation of all twelve grades" so long as complete desegregation was achieved by September 1967. 355 F.2d 865 (5th Cir. 1966).

The case returned to the 5th Circuit in 1969 and had been consolidated with a number of other school desegregation cases from across the 5th Circuit. The 5th Circuit held that all school districts were required to immediately begin operating as unitary systems in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, 396 U.S. 19 (1969), which held that schools were to be immediately unified and courts could no longer use the doctrine of deliberate speed in school desegregation cases. The 5th Circuit adopted a two-step approach to achieve complete desegregation: first, school faculties, staff, services, athletics, and other extracurricular activities were to be desegregated by February 1970; second, the student bodies were to be merged by fall 1970. The 5th Circuit adopted this approach because it recognized that it would be challenging to merge student bodies in the middle of the school year. 419 F.2d 1211 (5th Cir. 1969).

The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the 5th Circuit's opinion in early 1970. The Court held that the 5th Circuit misconstrued its holding in Alexander and the case was remanded, with many other cases it had been consolidated with, back to the 5th Circuit. Carter v. West Feliciana Parish Sch. Bd., 396 U.S. 290 (1970) (per curiam). Accordingly, the 5th Circuit was not allowed to defer student body merging beyond February 1, 1970, but all other provisions of the 1969 5th Circuit decision remained in effect. 425 F.2d 1211 (5th Cir. 1970).

In an unavailable opinion, District Judge Dan M. Russell approved the School District's desegregation plan that was created in accordance with the Supreme Court's holding in Alexander . The plaintiffs appealed. The 5th Circuit held that the desegregation plan did not achieve a unitary system because 7 of 38 elementary schools within the School District had all black student bodies, 6 elementary schools had over 90 percent black student bodies, 6 elementary schools had all white student bodies, 2 elementary schools had over 90 percent white student bodies, and 4 secondary schools had mostly black student bodies. The 5th Circuit remanded the case to the district court to initiate proceedings to end the dual system by calling for new desegregation proposals from the parties, HEW, and a court-created biracial committee. The district court was also given jurisdiction to monitor the ongoing desegregation efforts. 426 F.2d 1364 (5th Cir. 1970).

The district court (again, in an unavailable opinion) adopted one of three HEW plans even though the judge knew that the plan would have to be modified in order to be fully workable. HEW submitted modifications for the junior and senior high schools that were approved by the 5th Circuit. The court expressed its continued monitoring of the situation in Jackson because demographic patterns were constantly shifting and the court was concerned that some schools would not remain integrated and, as a result, the School District would not have a permanent unitary status. 430 F.2d 368 (5th Cir. 1970) (per curiam).

The district court approved a modification plan to desegregate the School District's elementary schools and the plaintiffs then appealed. The elementary school modification, in contrast to the secondary school modification, was not approved by the 5th Circuit and was remanded to the district court. The 5th Circuit found that the elementary plan would not help the School District achieve unitary status because 70 percent of all black students would attend school in predominantly black schools. 432 F.2d 927 (5th Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 944 (1971).

Later that year, the case returned to court. The Mississippi governor issued an executive order shortly after the 1971-1972 school year began that barred state officials from allocating educational funding to the School District until it was in full compliance with Mississippi school pupil transportation laws, which prohibited students from being bussed to school if they lived within a city's corporate limits. The School District lost approximately 40 percent of its operating budget due to the executive order. The School District added myriad state officials to the litigation after the executive order and, after an emergency hearing, the district court issued a temporary restraining order to allow the School District to receive its funding and to prohibit the state from interfering in its efforts to be in compliance with the court-approved desegregation order. The district court later granted a preliminary and permanent injunction barring the state officials from withholding any state funds due to the School District or from acting in any way that interfered or impeded with the desegregation plan. The School District proved to the district court that state funds were not used for intra-city bussing and, therefore, the court was not obligated to decide whether the Mississippi statute was constitutional. 332 F. Supp. 984 (S.D. Miss. 1971). In 1975, the state officials implicated in the 1971 district court decision appealed to the 5th Circuit. The 5th Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. 509 F.2d 818 (5th Cir. 1975).

The School District moved to dismiss the desegregation suit in 1981. The district court sustained this motion and held that the School District had successfully operated a unitary system for a decade and was in full compliance with all desegregation directives because the student body, faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities, and facilities were fully integrated. 541 F. Supp. 904 (S.D. Miss. 1981).

We are unaware of any appeal, and it seems likely that the case ended there. However, in 2007, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights published a report on unitary status findings, and in an appendix, reported this case as still open, with the note "District does not plan to seek unitary status." We are not sure of whether/how the case ended.

Available Opinions
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 348 F.2d 729 (5th Cir. 1965).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 355 F.2d 865 (5th Cir. 1966).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 404 F.2d 353 (5th Cir. 1968).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 419 F.2d 1211 (5th Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 1032 (1970).
Carter v. W. Feliciana Parish Sch. Bd., 396 U.S. 226 (1969) (per curiam).
Carter v. W. Feliciana Parish Sch. Bd., 396 U.S. 290 (1970) (per curiam).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 425 F.2d 1211 (5th Cir. 1970) (per curiam).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 426 F.2d 1364 (5th Cir. 1970).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 430 F.2d 368 (5th Cir. 1970).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 432 F.2d 927 (5th Cir. 1970) (per curiam), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 944 (1971).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 332 F. Supp. 984 (S.D. Miss. 1971).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 509 F.2d 818 (5th Cir. 1975).
Singleton v. Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 541 F. Supp. 904 (S.D. Miss. 1981).

Amelia Huckins - 03/05/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Busing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Monitoring
Preliminary relief granted
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Education
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Racial segregation
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Jackson Municipal Separate School District
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs were black students and their families residing in Jackson, Mississippi.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1965 - 1981
Filing Year 1963
Case Closing Year 1981
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Accompanying Memorandum
SD-MS-0030-0003.pdf | Detail
Date:
Source: Papers of Owen Fiss
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (348 F.2d 729)
SD-MS-0030-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/22/1965
Source: Papers of Ruben Ortenberg
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (355 F.2d 865)
SD-MS-0030-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/26/1966
Source: Papers of Ruben Ortenberg
[Order] (419 F.2d 1211)
SD-MS-0030-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/01/1969
Source: Westlaw
Order and Opinion (396 S.Ct. 226)
SD-MS-0030-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/13/1969
Source: Google Scholar
[Order] (425 F.2d 1211)
SD-MS-0030-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/21/1970
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (396 U.S. 290)
SD-MS-0030-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/29/1970
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (426 F.2d 1364)
SD-MS-0030-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/05/1970
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (430 F.2d 368)
SD-MS-0030-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/20/1970
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (432 F.2d 927)
SD-MS-0030-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/12/1970
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (332 F.Supp. 984) (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0030-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/19/1971
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (509 F.2d 818)
SD-MS-0030-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/26/1975
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (541 F.Supp. 904) (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0030-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/08/1981
Source: Westlaw
Judges Ainsworth, Robert Andrew Jr. (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Amaker, Norman C. Court not on record
SD-MS-0030-0013
Bell, Murphy W. Court not on record
SD-MS-0030-0013
Bell, Griffin Boyette (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Black, Hugo Lafayette (SCOTUS)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Brennan, William Joseph Jr. (SCOTUS)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Brown, John Robert (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0002 | SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005 | SD-MS-0030-0007 | SD-MS-0030-0008 | SD-MS-0030-0009 | SD-MS-0030-0011
Carswell, George Harrold (N.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Clark, Charles (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Coleman, James Plemon (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Collins, Robert Frederick (E.D. La.)
SD-MS-0030-0013
Douglas, William Orville (SCOTUS)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Dyer, David William (Eleventh Circuit, S.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Gee, Thomas Gibbs (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0011
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Godbold, John Cooper (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Harlan, John Marshall (Second Circuit, SCOTUS)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Hutcheson, Joseph Chappell Jr. (S.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0002
Ingraham, Joe McDonald (S.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0005 | SD-MS-0030-0007 | SD-MS-0030-0008 | SD-MS-0030-0009
Marshall, Thurgood (SCOTUS, Second Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Morgan, Lewis Render (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, N.D. Ga.)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005 | SD-MS-0030-0007 | SD-MS-0030-0008 | SD-MS-0030-0009 | SD-MS-0030-0011
Russell, Dan Monroe Jr. (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0030-0010 | SD-MS-0030-0012
Simpson, John Milton Bryan (M.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Sobol, Richard B. Court not on record
SD-MS-0030-0013
Stewart, Potter (Sixth Circuit, SCOTUS)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Thornberry, William Homer (Fifth Circuit, W.D. Tex.)
SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
White, Byron Raymond (SCOTUS)
SD-MS-0030-0006
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0030-0001 | SD-MS-0030-0002 | SD-MS-0030-0004 | SD-MS-0030-0005
Zarr, Melvyn Court not on record
SD-MS-0030-0013

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