Attorney to Appeal Ruling in Mississippi College Desegregation Case
Mississippi’s long-running college desegregation case is once again headed to the nation’s highest court. In January, a federal appeals court upheld a $503 million settlement in the desegregation case that stems from a lawsuit accusing Mississippi of neglecting its historically Black universities for decades (see Black Issues, Feb. 26).
The lead attorney for private plaintiffs trying to opt out of the settlement, Alvin Chambliss, said he is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court.
His clients include alumni and faculty of the schools.
Chambliss contends the settlement does not provide enough money to establish professional programs, without which Black colleges will die.
“How can a settlement be fair, reasonable, equitable and just if it doesn’t address the statewide imbalance of Black professionals?” Chambliss said.
The case originated in 1975 when the late Jake Ayers Sr. sued the state, accusing Mississippi of neglecting its Black universities. Plaintiffs successfully demanded more money be put into the historically Black institutions to end discrimination. In 1992, the Supreme Court agreed and ordered remedies.
U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. signed the settlement of the case in February 2002, a month after the Mississippi Legislature pledged to fulfill its requirements.
An appeal by opponents, including Ayers’ widow, was denied in January by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
State College Board President Roy Klumb was disappointed to learn of the latest appeal.
“If Mr. Chambliss wants to kick this anthill again, he’s really doing a disservice to the broad section of folks in the state who want to move on and try to obtain an education the best way they can,” Klumb said.
— Associated Press
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