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DC rights leader Gardner Bishop: 1950 ca. | by Washington Area Spark
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DC rights leader Gardner Bishop: 1950 ca.

An undated portrait of Gardner Bishop, the founder and organizer of the Consolidated Parents Group that fought for seven years for better schools in the District of Columbia and ultimately winning the Bolling v. Sharpe Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in Washington.


Gardner Bishop and his neighbors’ middle school-age children were crammed into a school with half the capacity, forced into part time shifts and walking blocks to annexes in order to sit at elementary school desks. There were no recreational facilities and no equipment for learning such as labs or typewriters. At the same time white only schools had vacancies and often-lavish facilities.


Bishop organized a strike, formed a new parents organization, picketed, rallied, and filed court suits until the whole so-called “separate but equal” system came crashing down in 1954.


The lawsuit that Consolidated Parents was responsible for, Bolling v. Sharpe, not only desegregated schools in the District, but also broke new ground in interpreting the “due process” clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.


For more information and related images, see


Read the story of of DC desegregation from the pickets to the courts:


The photo is from the Bishop family collection. The image is via Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.

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Taken circa 1950