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All Deliberate Delay: Desegregating the
Public Schools of Orange County, Florida

By: Brittany Bernstein
Mentor: Richard Crepeau

Abstract

Discussions of the Deep South often ignore Florida and neglect to note the complexities of race relations throughout the state's history. Central Florida particularly has been overlooked and historians have yet to establish firmly the history of mid-twentieth century race relations in the region. Since there are few existing written accounts of the civil rights movement in Central Florida, this study attempts to contribute to the scholarly discourse about race in the region by investigating the desegregation of Orange County public schools.

The bulk of this study is devoted to the 1962 case Ellis v. Board of Public Instruction of Orange County , Florida and how the case eventually desegregated the county's schools. The desegregation process was a long and arduous effort, but progress continued steadily and ten years after the suit was initiated, the county's school system bore little resemblance to the rigidly operated dual system of just one decade prior. This thesis sheds light on a previously overlooked segment of Central Florida's history and demonstrates why the untold story of Orange County's school desegregation effort is an important part of America's nationwide civil rights movement.

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