Schools and the formation of Black identity during the Civil Rights Movement: Change and resistance in Holly Springs, Mississippi, 1964–1974

David Marcos Callejo-Perez, Florida International University


Desegregation of social and public spaces was the most visible result of the Civil Rights Movement. After 1960, the integration of schools in Mississippi became a source of conflict. The social change of Civil Rights attacked the social order of White Resistance that supported the state superstructure. The public schools were a place for the discovery of identity for Blacks. The integrated on of the schools caused many Whites to leave rather than be integrated with Blacks. Desegregation of schools was also a slow process because the local and state government could not enforce the decisions of the US Courts, leading Blacks to realize their place in American society could only be secured through individual action. This work explains the role of schooling during the integration of the Holly Springs Separate School System. The process of forging a new identity by local Blacks is examined against the forces of social change and resistance. I addition, this work examines the perils for the Blacks as they faced the uncertainty of change in the crucial Civil Rights years between 1964 and 1974. This work analyzes how the Black community dealt with the problems triggered by the desegregation of the school system in Holly Springs, of a constructed social condition, a psychological state of being, the realities of racism and segregation, and the change and resistance between the individual and the collective. It is based on six months of field work investigation. Although the schools were a crucial aspect of community life for Blacks and Whites, Blacks did form their identity in them. Other institutions, such churches were more crucial. Second, the aspect of politeness and belief in law made the experience in Holly Springs unique to that place, and thus, warrants further study to determine its place within the Civil Rights Movement. Finally, while the political and economic control of Holly Springs remained with Whites, desegregation led to the resegregation of the public schools: as Whites left to private schools.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|American history|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Black history

Recommended Citation

Callejo-Perez, David Marcos, "Schools and the formation of Black identity during the Civil Rights Movement: Change and resistance in Holly Springs, Mississippi, 1964–1974" (2000). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9991043.