During Black History Month, the Tennessee State Library and Archives is making available a new collection that showcases some of the highlights of the Civil Rights Movement. The Southern School News Digital Collection is an online compendium of the journal Southern School News, a monthly publication by the Southern Education Reporting Service (SERS) reporting on developments in education arising from the Brown v.
Board of Education of Topeka Kansas U.S. Supreme Court opinion from May 17, 1954. This full text searchable digital collection is comprised of 11 volumes with 12 issues containing 12 to 24 pages each that were published from September 1954 through June 1965 in Nashville.
Beginning with the publication of the first issue on September 3, 1954, each journal reported about desegregation of U.S. public schools state by state through primary documentation and statistical evidence. Changes in public school education in 17 United States southern and border states as well as the District of Columbia were communicated to benefit educational administrators and officials. The goal of the publication was to provide “a reliable, central source of information on developments in education arising from the United States Supreme Court decision declaring compulsory racial segregation in the public schools to be unconstitutional.”
Southern School News published its mission in every issue, often on page four, along with a listing of correspondents and the board of directors. The journal unequivocally vowed to document all progress towards desegregation of public schools from the smallest detail to the largest university occurrences stating:
Southern School News is the official publication of the Southern Education Reporting Service, an objective, fact-finding agency established by southern newspaper editors and educators with the aim of providing accurate, unbiased information to school administrators, public officials and interested lay citizens on developments in education arising from the U.S. Supreme Court opinion of May 17, 1954 declaring segregation in the schools unconstitutional. SERS is not an advocate, is neither pro-segregation nor anti-segregation, but simply reports the facts as it finds them, state by state.
The board of directors for the publication was drawn from a wide variety of political and educational backgrounds to include both segregation and desegregation interpretations of the Supreme Court ruling. Members of the board included such distinguished Tennessee leaders as presidents and chancellors of Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities as well as George Peabody College. Also, included were the editors of both The Nashville Banner and The Nashville Tennessean.
Visit the Southern School News Collection on TeVA's website at http://tn.gov/tsla/TeVAsites/SouthernSchoolNews/index.htm to view more digital copies of this publication held at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.