On this day in 1956, an angry mob surrounded Mansfield High School to prevent the enrollment of
three African-American students in what became known as
the Mansfield School Desegregation Incident.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had sued the Mansfield school
district over its segregation of black schoolchildren. When a federal court ordered the district to
desegregate--the first time a Texas school district received such an order--many white citizens
resisted. Vigilantes barred integration sympathizers from entering town,
whites hanged three blacks in effigy, and downtown businesses closed in support of the
Governor Allan Shivers authorized the Mansfield school board to transfer black students to Fort
Worth, seventeen miles away, and dispatched Texas Rangers to uphold
the district's policy of segregation.
The successful defiance of the federal court order helped inspire the passage of state segregation
laws in 1957, delaying integration for several years.
The Mansfield school district finally desegregated in 1965.