Following the end of Reconstruction in the 1870’s, segregation of blacks and whites began with the passage of Jim Crow laws. These laws, which were highly popular in the South, but also extended into the Southwest and Midwest, segregated Blacks and Whites in all parts of public life, including attending schools. The case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) supported school segregation, but this decision was overturned in the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
Southside High School
In the 1960s, there was racial tension among students at Muncie's Southside High School. Southside used a modified version of the Confederate flag as the school’s flag. The African American community saw this symbol of "southern pride" as disrespectful. To them, these symbols represented the southern practice of slavery and oppression. African American students found it difficult to feel a sense of pride and unity because of the flag and the school’s mascot, the Rebel. These issues caused incidents of violence between white and African American students in Muncie.
Union Literary Institute
This school in Lynn, Indiana, was created in 1845 as
one of the first integrated schools in the United States.
Students were accepted without regard to their race, gender and economic standing. The institute was formed by blacks who lived in the Greenville Settlement, Benjamin Thomas of Wayne County and James Moorman of Winchester. Ebenezer Tucker was the first principal. The institute valued higher education, which was a benefit for blacks, especially those who had not learned to read and write. The institute is currently in the process of being renovated.
Schools in Jay County have been integrated since as early as 1902. Before the high schools in the area came together to form Jay County High School, the Dunkirk community had a sizeable African American population. There were at least 5 African American students who actively participated at Dunkirk High School. These students were involved in cheerleading, journalism and band, as well as taking on leadership positions.
Dunkirk High School
Racial tensions also emerged in Muncie during the community's decision to build Northside High School in the 1970s. This school was to be built in the north side of Muncie where the population mainly consisted of middle- to upper class white families. Because Muncie’s population was not large enough to justify a third high school, some residents saw this new school as de facto segregation. It would create a new school for wealthy white children, leaving the older Central High School for poorer and African American students. Not surprisingly, the construction of Northside drew criticism from the African American community.