One of the most eloquent appeals supporting the transfer came from a Washington citizen named Robert Hall.  Hall gave the issue international significance by connecting the problems in the District of Columbia Public School System with the role of the United States as leader of the free world. In Hall's opinion, the world respected the economic power of America but doubted its moral commitment to equal rights.  Since Hall understood that the Board had no authority to abolish dual schools, he argued that, at a minimum, it could turn Central over to Black students.                   

     The impact that the transfer of Central might have on new school construction posed a dilemma for activists.  Superintendent Hobart Corning had made it known that the transfer would jeopardize new construction.  The teachers at Cardozo viewed the problem differently.  Their school was so dilapidated that they wanted it abandoned immediately. The temporary use of Central seemed to them to be the most appropriate way to address their needs.       

     Marion B. Scott, a spokesperson for the Federation of Parent-Teachers Association, criticized Superintendent Corning's position on new construction. She related to the Board the complicated process required to construct new buildings in the District of Columbia.13 Scott challenged the Board of Education to reject any attempt to keep Central pure, white, and undefiled and identified sentiment as one factor that spurred white opposition to the transfer but she and others underestimated its importance.  To Scott it was a minor annoyance to be disregarded.  To many white citizens, however, sentiment for Central High School was a connecting historical thread to their community.  These whites feared that encroaching Blacks would sever this thread, leaving them without a school and a community.

     Some opponents structured their opposition so that race did not appear to be the major issue, while others expressed racist sentiments that ranged from the subtle to blatant and outlandish expressions of the inferiority of Blacks.  Some wrapped their racism in economic issues by saying that a Black presence at Central would have a negative impact on white businesses located in the neighborhood.  In addition, some whites accused Blacks of being a drain on the economy because so many did not pay taxes and depended on welfare.        While most white citizens knew that critical problems existed in the Colored School Division, some suspected that the Central High School crisis was manufactured to force the abolition of segregation.  They believed that outsiders were the perpetrators. These whites were not referring necessarily to groups from outside the city, but rather to those outside the midtown neighborhood.  The Consolidated Parent Group and the local branch of the NAACP were the most active of these organizations.


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November 2000