In the early 1970s, several private segregated academies were allowed to use public recreational facilities in Montgomery, Ala., for football and baseball games – a practice that meant taxpayers were subsidizing these all-white schools. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court finding the city’s practice unconstitutional.
Although some private, segregated schools had been in existence for several years, the city began to authorize their use of public facilities in the autumn of 1970 as it came under a sweeping and effective school desegregation decree. What began as a trickle of use in the 1970 football season became a flood that threatened integration efforts the following year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court finding the city’s practice unconstitutional. The high court’s decision was another victory against the city’s long-running campaign against desegregation, an effort that included a covert agreement with the local YMCA to fill the city’s recreational needs while continuing to segregate Montgomery citizens – a practice that an earlier SPLC lawsuit ended.