Court Orders Mississippi Town to Desegregate Its Schools

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND, Miss.) -- Desegregation in U.S. schools began in 1954 with the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. But one Mississippi school district is only now undergoing the transformation.

A federal court has ordered the Justice Department to desegregate schools in Mississippi where students in some secondary schools are still separated based on race.

"Six decades after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declared that ‘separate but equal has no place’ in public schools, this decision serves as a reminder to districts that delaying desegregation obligations is both unacceptable and unconstitutional," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement released Monday.

The school district in question is in Cleveland, Mississippi, located about 120 miles northwest of Jackson. The 2010 census estimated that there were more than 12,000 people who live in the town.

The Justice Department statement specifically lists four schools that will be impacted: the "virtually all-black" D.M. Smith Middle School, which will be integrated with "the historically white" Margaret Green Junior High School; and the "virtually all-black" East Side High School that will be integrated with "the historically white" Cleveland High School.

"The delay in desegregation has deprived generations of students of the constitutionally-guaranteed right of an integrated education," the 96-page order states, according to the Department of Justice. "Although no court order can right these wrongs, it is the duty of the district to ensure that not one more student suffers under this burden."

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