In 1954, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) challenged the right of school boards to run segregated schools. In the case of Brown V Board of Education, Topeka, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools was illegal under the constitution. This ruling was bitterly opposed by most Southern Whites. Six Southern states had refused to desegregate schools by the end of 1956. President Eisenhower was forced to use troops to make sure that the court’s ruling against segregated schools was enforced.
By looking at sources 7,8,9 and 10, I have found that to an extent the sources have a fair amount of reliability. On the other hand, in certain areas the reliability may be questioned. In source 7 we are shown the hostile reaction of some Whites. We see that men, women and children all had a reaction to desegregation of schools. We can presume from the source that the white people are territorial. The fact that the newspaper from which the extract has been taken is reliable and there may be a high degree of accuracy and truth in the extract. Ultimately, there are many factors against the reliability.
We do not know much about the reporter. The reaction of the black children is not noted. Also, only 1 point of view is shown and we are only told about one incident, in one town, therefore, this may not reflect what happened in all schools. There are also gaps in the source and important pieces may be missing. All these factors may limit the source’s reliability. In source 8 a photograph of Elizabeth Eckford is shown. She is on her way to the previously all white Little Rock High School in 1957. We can see the guards are standing back and letting everyone past.
It is unclear if the guards are there to protect or to guard. We are shown some of the hostility experienced by the 15 year old, black girl. The fact that there are guards present shows a degree of tension at the scene. As we have only got one picture we are limited to what is shown in the frame. As we cannot tell what is going on for sure, we can only presume what is happening in the frame. This particular source is reliable as we can see an image of a particular situation but without an explanation of what is going on in the source we cannot class it as useful.
Source 9 gives us a greater knowledge and understanding of source 8. What we assumed was going on is actually happening. It is also evident from this source that not all white people are against desegregation. This source is a useful personal account of the experiences of a young girl. We can see the extent of the hostility and violence of racism but it shows that at least some Whites are supportive. It supports source 8 with regard to tension and presence of the guards. We are not clear why Eckford is putting herself through this torment.
We know nothing about the objections of the segregationalist or the determination of the black people. As this source only covers 1 perspective and, is only 1 piece of the jigsaw that requires many others- the other 4 sources. We also must be aware that Eckford may have exaggerated a little even though she may have had a reason to do so. The fact that the piece was written 7 years later but quoted at the time of the incident means that the author may have added in or taken bits out of her account. We must take into account that sources 7,8 and 9 are informing us only about the Little Rock High School.
These issues all affect the reliability of source 9. Source 10 is a Gallup opinion poll. We are unaware of how the sample was completed, affecting the reliability of this source. In this particular poll we are unaware of which groups are opposing or disapproving. There is a reliability issue. Again there are missing pieces in the jigsaw. The fact that we do not know who was polled means that we cannot tell the opinion of the Whites but of the Blacks and Whites as a whole. The fact that the ‘no opinion’ category is small (6%) shows that the majority of people have an opinion on the topic.
Majority view is that the South is at variance with the majority view in the North. This shows that in the South a small number (27%) approve whereas a large number (63%) in the North approve. It must be taken into account that the large amount of the racial oppression took place in the South. We are also made aware that the entire USA is in approval of the decision of desegregation of schools. Overall, each source has a certain amount of reliability but when studied in detail, it is clear that what we read in the sources may not be totally reliable as we are unaware of the bigger picture.