A top-ranking sociologist last night said that the recent Supreme Court decision abolishing segregation in public schools would represent a substantial gain in foreign prestige for this country.
Gordon W. Allport '19, professor of Psychology, who has just published a book on "The Nature of Prejudice," said that "the immediate effect of the decision will be an appreciable and much needed improvement in the moral stock of the United States throughout the world. In spite of temporary flurries of protest," Allport remarked, "the South will soon fall in the line because the decision coincides with its conscience."
The effects of the court's decision, however, will necessarily be mainly long-run. "The change is so fundamental that no one can predict the final outcome," said Carle C. Zimmerman, associate professor of Sociology. "The effect would be similar to doing away with separate toilets for the different sexes in the North," Zimmerman maintained. "It necessitates a period of gradual adjustment at first, an adaptation to a new system."
Although the majority of the educated persons in the South favor the decision, and have been expecting it for some time, the immediate results may not be encouraging. Peter H. Rossi, assistant professor of Sociology, stated that "there are, of course, alegal, yet not necessarily illegal, methods for practicing segregation." Rossi pointed out that in the North, even more so than in the South, segregation is practiced by "restricting" residential districts. "The decision may result in an unmixing of the now-mixed residential areas in parts of the South."
A further serious threat to the successfulness of the edict is the problem of the resultant unemployment situation created among the teachers themselves. "There is much apprehension among the Negro school personnel," Rossi maintained. "Especially above the teacher level, among the principals and superintendents, the threat of 'white supremacy' is still very strong." The consolidation of the two-system school system in many states means that many teachers would find themselves out of jobs.
"Yet, in the long run," Allport said, "the white child will grow up without the false sense of superiority; and the Negro child without the false sense of humiliation and inferiority with which he now must contend."