ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator
2015 -- Fareed Zakaria on CNN (8/3015) said that in preparing to speak
in Singapore that he asked the country's Deputy Prime Minister what he
regarded as the country's biggest success. Zakaria thought the response
would be Singapore's strong economy but instead the Deputy Prime Minister
cited Singapore's "social harmony". The Minister said: "Over
80 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing
When you ensure
every neighborhood is mixed, people do everyday things together
most importantly their kids go to the same schools. When the kids grow
up together, they begin to share a future together." Then, I noted
in the Post and Courier (8/31/15) that a public housing facility was purchased
by private developers. The United States does the opposite of Singapore
to obtain "social harmony".
The 1954 Supreme Court decision in the Kansas case of Brown vs. The Board
of Education reversed the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of "separate
but equal". The Court required public schools to integrate with "deliberate
speed". Kansas's secondary schools were already integrated and Kansas
primary grades were segregated. The lead case on segregation was Briggs
vs. Elliott in Summerton, South Carolina. The Briggs case was tried by
Thurgood Marshall for the NAACP and Robert Figg for South Carolina. I
had introduced the 3 percent sales tax for the equalization of teachers'
pay, transportation and school buildings in South Carolina. I knew nothing
about the case, but Governor Byrnes wanted to make sure that any question
for "separate but equal" could be answered. He sent me along
with Figg to help with the arguments before the Court. Having served on
the Supreme Court, Governor Byrnes knew that John W. Davis was the best
before the Court and he selected Davis to make S.C.'s arguments before
I were eating breakfast in the DC Train Station when Thurgood Marshall
joined us for breakfast. Marshall and Figg had toiled through months in
the Briggs Case and had become close friends. Marshall was telling of
integration problems in Illinois and turned to Figg asking: "Suppose
I win? How long do you think it will take to integrate the public schools
in South Carolina?" Figg paused, mopping his brown, and responded:
"It will take longer than you think, Thurgood. It will take all of
twenty five years." Marshall responded: "You're wrong. It will
take fifty years." Now sixty years later, Scotts Branch School in
Summerton is still substantially segregated.
After the Brown Decision, the lawyers for both sides of the case got together
and agreed that the best way to integrate the schools with "deliberate
speed" was to integrate the first grade the first year; the first
and second grade the next year and eleven or twelve years later public
schools would be integrated. The children growing up together would "share
a future together". But an official for the NAACP in New York, cried:
"We're not to be given our rights on the installment plan."
Now, civil rights, integration and immigration are still the number one
problem in the United States.
The lawyers were right. Over the years, the United States has become one
big Singapore with immigration, civil rights and integration, one big
problem. If we could make public housing an infrastructure priority, like
the Interstate Highway System, instead of closing public housing facilities,
the United States could begin to enjoy "social harmony."
Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate,
and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science &
Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making
Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact
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Ernest F. Hollings served
the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South
Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of
Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website
as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn
more about Fritz Hollings.
here to learn more about Hollings' impressive and distinguished record
of public service.
University of South Carolina Press in 2008 published Making
Government Work by Sen. Hollings. Learn
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