“Lubricating the Machine of Social Change”: The National PTA and Desegregation Debates, 1950–1970
Article first published online: 17 JAN 2014
© 2014 Peace History Society and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Peace & Change
Volume 39, Issue 1, pages 49–72, January 2014
How to Cite
Heath, S. E. (2014), “Lubricating the Machine of Social Change”: The National PTA and Desegregation Debates, 1950–1970. Peace & Change, 39: 49–72. doi: 10.1111/pech.12052
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 17 JAN 2014
This article focuses on the intersecting strands of the movement for desegregation in public schools and in the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the largest volunteer organization dedicated to youth and education in the twentieth century. The PTA underwent a slow, contentious transition in at least two significant ways. First, while the National PTA office at first supported the rights of state and local chapters to dictate their own affairs, eventually it asserted control on all policy (including desegregation) for its branches. Second, the unification of the PTA's membership did not occur until 1970. While the PTA suffered from internal divisions along racial lines, black women wished to sustain their guidance on school policies and programs for young people in their communities. Eventually, PTA members enacted a policy that guaranteed inclusion and authority for black members. Leaders in the PTA, therefore, guided a significant shift in policy over time away from acceptance of segregation to an overt insistence on inclusion.