Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Amy E Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Kerry B Melear

Third Advisor

Jeffrey T Jackson

School

University of Mississippi

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

The founding leadership of the Mississippi Private School Association (MPSA) used individual experience and extensive networking via the Citizens’ Council along with the community’s belief and desire to maintain white-only schools to create a coalition of quickly formed but well-resourced private schools. This political and social clout afforded them the ability to create a large, powerful organization almost “instantly” during a pivotal moment of southern educational history. Scholar Kenneth T. Andrews called the establishment of all-white academies in Mississippi, “a countermovement strategy that flowed out of the prior history of organized white resistance to the civil-rights movement.” The significance of this narrative lies in timing and ambitious, aggressive scope of the organization. In the fall of 1964 there were nine private day schools in Mississippi that were not affiliated with either the military or the Catholic Church. The MPSA officially formed in 1968 and by 1972 the organization had an enrollment of 30,515 students spread across 110+ schools in four states. Not only is the organization’s rapid growth significant in the understanding of reactions to the Civil Rights movement, but also the roots and style of its leadership. The individuals that founded the MPSA and sat on the executive committee were seasoned organization builders that utilized their networks and experiences as influential members of the Citizens Council to quickly buttress the MPSA. Because these Mississippi leaders believed that forcible integration of their segregated schools by the United States government was imminent, they organized an association of private schools that would allow white Mississippians to take ownership of all local education processes and norms. By providing a legitimate alternative to the state’s public schools that was fully accredited, comparable with resources, including a full slate of extracurricular activities, these men were able to drastically mitigate against the equity for all children that was intended when K-12 education in Mississippi was integrated.

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