Lloyd A. Barbee Papers, 1933-1982


Lloyd Augustus Barbee was born August 17, 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Earnest and Adlena (Gilliam) Barbee. At the age of 12, Barbee joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and remained involved with the organization through his college days. He attended Memphis grade and high schools, and received a B.A. in social sciences from LeMoyne College, Memphis, in 1949. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946.

Barbee first came to the University of Wisconsin in 1949 to attend law school on a scholarship, but dropped out after his first year, in part due to the racism he encountered in the professors and students alike. In 1951, he spent a short period as national field secretary for the student division of Americans for Democratic Action. Barbee later returned to school and earned a law certificate in 1955 and an LL.B. in 1956 from the University of Wisconsin Law School. He encountered obstacles in searching for a Madison law firm willing to accept a black lawyer for an internship, but was eventually successful. After his admittance to the bar, Barbee entered private law practice in Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1959 served as legal consultant to the Governor's Commission on Human Rights. From 1957 to 1962 Barbee was a Law Examiner for the Industrial Commission of Wisconsin, Unemployment Compensation Department, and during the same time period, acted as chairman of the Mayor's Commission on Human Rights in Madison. It was while working with the Commission on Human Rights that Barbee began his campaign for fair housing legislation. In 1961, Barbee led a 13-day sit-in on the ground floor of the Capitol in support of fair housing legislation. The following year Barbee had a dispute with the University of Wisconsin when it refused to release a film he had produced (with help from the University Extension) recording incidents of housing discrimination in Madison. He eventually was instrumental in the passage of a 1965 state fair housing act.

In September 1962 Barbee began his own law firm, Barbee and Jacobson (after 1976 known as Barbee and Goldberg), in Milwaukee, where he soon became involved in the school segregation dispute. Barbee was also a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Law School, 1969-1973, and a member of Milwaukee Legal Services from 1973 to 1976.

From 1965 through 1976 Barbee represented the 18th Assembly District (formerly the 6th District, Milwaukee) in the Wisconsin State Assembly. In the Legislature, he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee (1973-1976) and of the Enrolled Bills Committee (1965-1966, 1971-1972), and a member of the Transportation, Joint Finance, and Commerce and Manufactures Committees, and of the Judicial Council and Board on Government Operations. As a legislator, Barbee often championed unpopular ideas and causes. He worked for prison and court reform, and authored numerous bills, many in support of the rights of blacks, women, gays, and other minorities. Barbee also was an early supporter of legalization of marijuana, abortion, prostitution, and polygamy; of drug use and sex between consenting partners without criminal sanctions; and of reparations for all Wisconsin blacks and native Americans.

Lloyd Barbee also held numerous community and civic offices; most of which were connected with civil rights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). Barbee was president of the Madison NAACP branch, 1955-1960; Wisconsin NAACP conference president, 1961-1964, and vice-president, 1964-1966; vice-chairman of the national organization's Region III, 1963-1964; member of the Milwaukee Branch NAACP executive board 1967-1969; chairman of the Legal Redress and labor and Industry Committees; and delegate to NAACP meetings and conferences. He was a founder and long-time chairman of MUSIC, organized specifically to combat discrimination in the Milwaukee public schools. Barbee was president (1969-1973) of Freedom Through Equality, Inc., an organization established to reform laws detrimental to the poor, and was a member of the board of the E.B. Phillips Day Care Center, 1964-1966, and of We-Milwaukeeans. Barbee was also active in local and state Democratic politics. He was a delegate to the White House Conference “To Fulfill These Rights,” 1968, and to the 1968 and 1972 Democratic National Conventions. He was a member of the steering committee for the National Black Political Convention, 1972; chairman of the Wisconsin Black Elected and Appointed Officials, 1971, of the Wisconsin Black Political Caucus, 1972, and of the Wisconsin Black Lawyers Association, 1973; and member of the National Black Assembly, 1973-1974. He received the Outstanding Service Award from the National Association of Black Veterans (1972), the Humanitarian Award from Zero Population Growth (1973), and the First Annual Integration Award of the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union (1976), in addition to many other community service related awards.

Barbee was a longtime advocate of total school integration and a leader in the struggle to desegregate Milwaukee public schools. From the mid-1960s, when he first organized and led boycotts to protest Milwaukee's de facto school segregation, Barbee maintained his support for integration. In 1965, Barbee filed a lawsuit on behalf of 41 parents of Milwaukee school children against the Milwaukee School Board, charging that the Board practiced and allowed discrimination in the public schools. Barbee retired from the legislature in 1977 to devote more time to the case, and continued as the attorney for the original plaintiffs until the 1979 out of court settlement with the School Board. After the completion of the lawsuit, Barbee continued his private practice and taught in the Afro-American studies department at the University of Milwaukee (1976-1988).

In 1954 Barbee married Roudaba Bunting (whose later married names were Lau and Davido). Barbee adopted his wife's son by a previous marriage, Finn Thatcher (1952- ), and the couple were the parents of Daphne Eurydice (1955- ) and Rustam Aaron (1957- ). Lloyd and Roudaba Barbee were divorced in 1960. Lloyd Barbee passed away on December 29, 2002.

The Milwaukee School Desegregation Case

The Milwaukee school desegregation case, Amos, et al. vs. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee , had its legal beginnings in 1965, when the parents of 32 black and 9 white Milwaukee school children filed suit in federal court against the Milwaukee School Board. However, parents, members of the black community, and black leaders had protested the School Board's policies of segregation for many years. In 1963, Lloyd Barbee, as state president of the NAACP, first contacted the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction to request an order eliminating de facto school segregation in the state. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Angus B. Rothwell, responded that proof of illegal segregation in Milwaukee was necessary before he could act. After his investigation, Rothwell reported to Barbee on September 5, 1963, that he found no evidence of intentional segregation by Milwaukee school officials, and that the situation in Milwaukee was the result of residential settlement patterns. Rothwell also noted that the placement of pupils or alteration of boundary lines to change the racial make-up of schools might be a violation of Wisconsin law.

In December of that year, Milwaukee school officials announced that a census of school children would be taken to determine the number of non-whites in each school. Not satisfied with the School Board's response, the state NAACP executive board voted to conduct a school boycott if the Milwaukee School Board failed to grant sufficient relief. Demonstrations soon began against busing practices which enforced segregation.

On March 1, 1964, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee was formed with Barbee as chairman, to coordinate all mass action on the school segregation issue. Original organizers included local and state NAACP leaders, Congress of Racial Equality members, and others; many other groups later became members of MUSIC. Later that month MUSIC leaders toured Roosevelt and Wilbur Wright Junior high schools to investigate alleged inequities in textbooks, classroom and shop equipment, and library facilities, and to see the paddles used to punish students at Roosevelt (an almost all-Negro school). In response, MUSIC organized a mass withdrawal or boycott of children from Milwaukee schools to begin May 18, 1964 and established freedom schools for the boycotting children. Throughout the rest of the 1964 and the 1965 school years, MUSIC and other civil rights groups continued to pressure the Milwaukee school officials. A second boycott took place in October 1965. Barbee filed suit for the parents of the 41 children to force the Milwaukee School Board to end its segregation policies. The lawsuit was the first of its kind in the country which included parents of white children among the plaintiffs. The plaintiff Milwaukee school children represented all others in the city, while the defendants were members of the School Board and the school superintendent. Lloyd Barbee was one of six lawyers initially involved with the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that school authorities maintained or fostered segregation in the school system by establishing school boundary lines based on segregated housing patterns; by permitting the easy transfer of white pupils to other schools, while assigning black students to racially segregated schools; by assigning black teachers and staff to segregated schools; by approving plans for construction of two schools that were to be predominantly black; and by failing to integrate inner core area students transferred by bus from their own to another school. Of particular concern to parents and the black community was this “intact bussing” of black students from overcrowded schools or schools undergoing construction and renovation. With “intact bussing,“ entire classes of black students were bused to other schools (usually white), where the classes were kept together and separate from white students. In many cases, students who were bused were returned to their home school for lunch even when lunch facilities were available in the host schools. The practice of “intact busing” continued until 1971.

The plaintiffs sought injunctions against school officials, asked that the officials submit a plan for school desegregation, redraw school boundary lines, and construct new schools to promote integration. In their complaint, the plaintiffs cited 14 of the 21 elementary schools in the inner core area with black enrollments exceeding 90 percent, 6 with black enrollments over 50 percent and one over 40 percent. Similar patterns for inner core junior and senior high schools were indicated, while of the 120 schools outside of the inner core area, 106 had fewer than 10 percent black students in the student body.

An amended complaint was filed in 1968, adding new plaintiffs. During the intervening years, the attorneys for the plaintiffs conducted a massive research project to document their claims. The trial began in the fall of 1973, with final arguments filed in 1974.

On January 19, 1976, Federal District Judge John Reynolds ruled that the Milwaukee Public Schools were illegally segregated in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment rights of the students, and ordered the Milwaukee Board of School Directors to take immediate steps to desegregate the public schools. In his ruling, the judge reviewed School Board decisions from 1950 to 1974 in the areas of school construction and siting, the use of substandard classrooms, busing programs, student transfers, and personnel practices, and determined that the School Board's policies intended to keep students in the schools segregated by race. The Court found that school buildings used mostly for black students were older than those for white students and were overcrowded. It also found that the School Board had decided to build additions to existing schools in predominantly black areas, rather than to reassign students or redraw district boundary lines to solve overcrowding. At the same time, the School Board was found to have allowed boundary changes to permit white students to attend white schools rather than black schools.

The Court also studied the use of “intact busing,” and found that the supposedly temporary practice had been used in several black elementary schools for years. Regarding student transfers, Judge Reynolds found that the school system's Open Transfer Policy was used by white students to transfer out of schools with increasing black populations, while black students were not allowed to transfer to white schools, thus playing “a significant part in producing racial imbalance at the secondary school level.” The transfer policies had resulted in increasing proportions of black students at King High School, North Division High School, Fulton Junior High School, Roosevelt Junior High School, Wells Junior High School, Berger Elementary School, 4th Street Elementary School, and Keefe Elementary School. The judge also found that the School Board expended more money per pupil in white schools and that teachers in white school had more experience than those in black schools, where the rate of teacher transfer was much greater.

The judge did not order busing or the use of racial quotas, nor did he set deadlines for implementation of desegregation. Rather, he set up a three-year desegregation plan under Special Master John Gronouski, to begin in the fall of 1976. The plan was to be based on the “magnet school” concept.

In 1976, the name of the case was changed to Armstrong vs. O'Connell , reflecting the fact that all of the Amos children had graduated from the public schools by this time.

The majority of the school board, which had consistently opposed nearly all previous efforts to desegregate the schools, successfully appealed Reynold's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In January 1978 the U.S. Supreme Court set aside Reynolds' decision, and remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration (in light of the Supreme Court decision of Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. and Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman ). The Supreme Court held that more evidence was needed to prove intent, particularly in regard to intact busing. The district court was asked to determine whether the school board had administered the school system with “an intent to segregate” and if so, what “present effects” had resulted from such segregation. At the remand trial (retrial), Barbee and other lawyers brought more evidence of the existence of intact busing, relying heavily on the testimony of former School Board member John Stocking. For this phase of the case, the lawyers did not gather more evidence, rather they tried to show the School Board's intention and liability and the present effects of segregation and to offer a remedy. Reynolds heard testimony in 1978 and then ruled in February 1979 that the School Board had administered the system with intent to segregate since 1950. He also ruled that the present effects were systemwide.

On March 1, 1979, plaintiffs and defendants agreed upon a settlement which called for a 5-year desegregation plan, allowing about 20 all-black schools to remain, but no all-white schools. The plaintiffs and School Board (with its black members dissenting) approved the plan, and in May 1979 it was accepted by Judge Reynolds. The NAACP appealed the desegregation order in June on the basis that it discriminated against and violated the rights of black students who were forced to remain in all-black schools. Some matters such as how to assign teachers equally by race remained unresolved, and the matter of whether to force racial balance at North Division High School remained on the court docket until 1980. By 1981 critics of Milwaukee school integration noted that the desegregation scheme still left suburban schools without many minority students, while mainly black students were bussed to school.

The following is an outline of proof needed to show that the School Board's activities were illegal, drawn up by the lawyers for the plaintiffs, and which provided a focus for the research and search for evidence during the initial phase of the case.


Facts of Segregation

I. Black Enrollment
II. Black Teachers

Three Points of Proof
I. Intent A. Staff Assignment 1. Teachers a. Transfers and Assignment--School Location and Home Address
b. Teacher Transfer Requests
c. Substitute Assignments
d. Administrative Promotions
B. Student Assignments 1. Computer Study a. Effects of Relief for Overcrowding
b. Trigger Point for Relief
c. Black Enrollment Percentages
d. 50-100 percent Black School Relief Analysis
e. Percentage of Overcrowding
f. Average Percentage of Capacity
g. Transfer Balance and Mobility Index
h. Integrated and Segregated Busing
i. Racial Assignments of Bused Children
j. Racial Effects of Boundary Changes
k. School Size
l. Classroom Use and Availability
2. Transfers a. Racist
b. Policy Violations
c. White Granted/Black Denied and Discouraged
3. Boundaries a. District Changes
b. Feeder Pattern Changes
c. School Capacities
d. School Organization
e. Race Changes
4. Buildings a. Site Selection
b. New Schools
c. Additions
d. Government Collusion in Segregation
5. Busing a. Intact
b. Area
c. Special Education--Difference by Race
6. Racial Awareness and Reaction to the Community a. Equality Committee
b. Contrast--Reaction to White Petitions
7. Treatment of Minority Groups in Texts and Courses a. Textbooks, Rules, etc.
b. Analysis of Textbooks
8. Government Collusion in Segregated Housing and Schools
C. Administrators 1. School Level a. Assistant Principals
b. Guidelines
c. Release Time
2. Board Level
3. Faculty Program and Needs a. Teacher-Intern Program
b. Teacher Aid Program
c. Teacher Hiring and Firing
D. Non-Certified Staff: Social Workers, Recreational Clerical
E. Special Studies Program 1. The Inner Core as an Entity a. North Subsystem
b. Great Cities Program
c. Immigrant Program
d. O'Reilly Study
e. Housing Study
f. Civil Rights Commission Report
g. Others
2. Decisions Made on the Basis of Race a. Separate Programs
b. Compensatory Education
3. Median Income
II. Separate and Unequal (Rothwell Report) A. Curriculum and Program Differences 1. Course Offerings Differences--High School
2. Reading Centers
3. Evidence of Track System a. S.A.C.
b. Special C
c. Other Evidence
4. Unavailable Scores
5. Boys Tech
6. Departmentalization of Elementary Schools
7. Special Education
8. Summer School Offerings
9. Kindergarten and Headstart
10. Extra-Curricular Differences
B. Recreational Program 1. Number and Location of Centers
2. Program Differences
C. Lunch Program
D. Staff Experience and Qualifications 1. Teacher Experience
2. Probationary Principals and Administrators
3. Substitutes
4. Counselors (Psychologists, Welfare, and Guidance) a. Number Per Pupil (Location and Federal)
b. Experience
c. Attitudes
5. Psychologists Per Unit a. Number Per Pupil
b. Experience
c. Attitude
E. Expenditures and Funds Allocated Per Pupil 1. Building a. Construction--New Buildings, Additions, Modifications, Original Cost
b. Repair and Maintenance, Including Heat
2. Facilities and Equipment
3. Books and Supplies
4. Teacher Salaries a. Local
b. Federal
F. Schools 1. Ages
2. Size
3. Playground Acreage
4. Substandard Rooms
5. Pictures
G. Unequal Treatment of Pupils and Parents (Administrative Discipline) 1. Expulsions
2. Suspensions a. Number
b. Number Voluntarily Excluded
c. Reasons
3. Exclusions with Parental Agreement
4. Withdrawals
5. Transfer to MVS
6. Beatings
7. Administrative Transfers
8. Witnesses
9. Supervision
H. City/Suburban Schools 1. Comparisons with Selected Districts a. Enrollment by Race
b. Per Pupil Expenditures
c. Mean Reading Achievement
d. Mean Scores on National Exam
e. Salaries
f. Per Pupil Ratio
I. Private and Parochial Schools
III. Effects A. Test Results and Scores
B. Percent of Failure
C. Student Reaction--Transfer Mobility Index (Tardiness, Absences, Truancies, Window Breaking, Assaults on Teachers, Drop-Outs)
D. Employment 1. Trades
2. Professions
3. White-Collar Jobs
4. Percent Unemployment
E. Economic Effects 1. Level of Income
2. Home Ownership
3. Housing Choices
IV. School Board and Administration A. Board Rules
B. Board and Administrative Organization
C. Attitudes and Intransigence
D. Special Committee on Equality of Educational Opportunity 1. Golightly's 10 Suggestions a. Open Enrollment
b. Rezoning
c. Rematching
d. Recombination
e. School Spotting
f. Employment and Assignment
g. Bus Transportation
h. Free Transportation
i. Pupil Transportation
j. Redefined High School Functions
2. Staff Booklets and Pamphlets
V. Experts
VI. Clippings
VII. Plaintiff's Proposed Exhibits