In a strange twist of irony, initially at least, many whites who wanted to maintain dual schools opposed this option for both economic and racial reasons. Many white taxpayers did not want to spend millions of dollars to provide the Colored School Division with better high schools than the White School Division.  Without realizing it, their opposition assured the eventual approval of the alternative solution.  This required transferring Central High School to the Colored School Division.  The use of Central by the Cardozo students would eliminate the need to build new high schools for Blacks. 

     The Central High Alumni Association, other white groups, and many white citizens voiced support of a recommendation for Central as detailed by the Strayer Committee,5 a committee authorized by Congress to examine the physical plants in the public schools. Several of the committee’s recommendations related to the continued viability of Central and Cardozo as high schools. The report recommended retaining Central as a regional senior high school but opening it to white pupils from all areas of the District of Columbia, with “a [two] year program above the present high school course."6  Central would become, in essence, a junior college for whites.        

      However, the Strayer Committee concluded that Cardozo should not be retained. It advised the public school system to create more comprehensive high schools.7

       Central High alumni, white civic groups, and white citizens who opposed the transfer of Central to the Colored School Division found merit in some of the Strayer Committee's recommendations and liked the idea of making Central a junior college for white students.8   These critics would have supported any plan or alternative to keep Central a white school.

     Neither the Strayer Committee nor those opposed to the transfer gave sufficient thought to the increase of the Black population in midtown Northwest.  By the 1940s, the Black population shifts within the city and Black migration, primarily from the South, had begun to have an impact on  white neighborhoods, except those west of Rock Creek Park. As more African-Americans moved into the area near Central High School, there was little chance of the survival of a viable white community.

     African-Americans continued to press aggressively for a solution to the overcrowding at Cardozo.  White citizens watched these events uneasily because they knew that any solution to the Cardozo crisis would have an impact on Central.  Whites hoped that the recommendations of the Strayer Committee would be accepted.  Instead, the Board of Education chose to disregard them.


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November 2000