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Gardner Bishop in his barbershop: 1974 | by Washington Area Spark
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Gardner Bishop in his barbershop: 1974

Gardner Bishop, the barber who organized a seven-year fight that ended school segregation in the District of Columbia is shown in his shop at 15th & U Streets NW in May 1974.


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 (Consolidated Parents Group), picketed, rallied, and filed court suits until the whole so-called “separate but equal” system came crashing down in 1954.


The lawsuit he 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:


Photographer is unknown. The image is an auction find.

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Taken in May 1974