Desegregating the South: John Minor Wisdom's Role in Enforcing Brown's Mandate

63 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2004


The following excerpted chapter from a forthcoming biography of Judge John Minor Wisdom serves as a fitting touchstone for this symposium issue. The Essay begins with Judge Wisdom celebrating his forty-ninth birthday on May 17, 1954. On that same day, nearly a thousand miles away, the United States Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The decision would have a remarkable impact on New Orleans and the South and affect Judge Wisdom in ways that were perhaps unknowable on that warm, pre-summer evening.

The Essay recounts the remarkable role Judge Wisdom played in implementing the Brown decision in states encompassed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The author catalogues the recalcitrance with which the South received the decision and the remarkable challenges Judge Wisdom and his peers faced in enforcing Brown's mandate. In doing so, the author provides rich analysis and discussion of Judge Wisdom's most important desegregation cases.

Keywords: Civil rights, school desegregation

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Joel W., Desegregating the South: John Minor Wisdom's Role in Enforcing Brown's Mandate. Available at SSRN:

Joel W. Friedman (Contact Author)

Tulane University - Law School ( email )

New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
504-865-5985 (Phone)

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