Serena Mayeri


In September 1977, hundreds of African American parents and students picketed the Amite County courthouse in Liberty, Mississippi. Holding banners that read "End Sex Discrimination," they launched a month-long boycott of area public schools. The African American community of Amite County was protesting a regime of sex segregation conceived in the immediate aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education and implemented fifteen years later, when the Supreme Court established school districts' "affirmative duty" to abolish dual school systems for black and white children. When whites in many parts of the South threatened to shut down public schools rather than desegregate, sex segregation had offered a promising antidote to fears of racial "amalgamation." Now, it was African American families fed up with sex separation who kept their children home. Their story, and the legal battles fought in their name, are the focus of this article.