General Assembly Committee on Schools, Sibley Commission
@ Atlanta History Center
DescriptionView of Mrs. Phillip Hammer of the Georgia League of Women Voters, speaking during a meeting of the General Assembly Committee on Schools in Atlanta, Georgia.In 1960, Georgia Governor Ernest Vandiver, Jr. was faced with a decision to either close public schools or comply with a federal order to desegregate them. To avoid conflict with the federal government, He directed the Georgia General Assembly to create the General Assembly Committee on Schools. The committee was charged with gauging public sentiment regarding school desegregation and reporting back to the governor. Atlanta businessman John Sibley was selected to lead this effort, and therefore the committee was often referred to as the Sibley Commission. Although He believed in segregation, Sibley hoped to minimize support for massive resistance to school desegregation for practical reasons. He held ten public hearings across the state in which the debate was confined to two choices: continuing massive resistance at the expense of the school system or amending state law to allow token integration while keeping segregation largely intact. Most of those in attendance at the meetings supported total segregation of the schools. Sibley recommended that the state accept the federal decision to desegregate the schools despite the commission's findings. In January of 1961, Governor Vandiver introduced a bill that accepted the Sibley Commission's recommendations for desegregation.
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