Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Mark Golub

Reader 2

Lily Geismer

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© 2014 Colleen N. Broderick


This thesis uses an historical lens to understand the political development of desegregation law since Brown, which demonstrates that local policies are produced by Supreme Court precedent. However, school districts and community members also create conditions in which the Supreme Court rules on integration law. Examining the history of segregation in Seattle and the efforts of integration (or efforts against it) illuminates the trajectory of civil rights. Claims once used to integrate black school children became a defense for white children to attend, inevitably, white neighborhood schools, due to the lingering effects of housing segregation.

Seattle’s desegregation policies depended upon the city’s local conditions and the Board’s strategy reflected national trends dictated by the Supreme Court’s decisions. In turn, Seattle’s local policies affected the Supreme Court’s decision regarding school integration in 2007. The local conditions surrounding many of Seattle parents’ fight against mandatory school assignment plans based on race in 2007 could not have been accomplished without the historical precedent against busing established by liberal, anti-busing groups during the 1970s and 1980s.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.