Watson v. City of Memphis

PETITIONER: Watson
RESPONDENT: City of Memphis
LOCATION: Clauson's Inn

DOCKET NO.: 424
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 373 US 526 (1963)
ARGUED: Apr 17, 1963 / Apr 18, 1963
DECIDED: May 27, 1963

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Watson v. City of Memphis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 17, 1963 in Watson v. City of Memphis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 18, 1963 in Watson v. City of Memphis

Earl Warren:

I. Watson Jr., et al., petitioners versus City of Memphis.

Mr. Prewitt you may continue your argument.

Thomas R. Prewitt:

Mr. Chief Justice may it please the Court.

Yesterday Your Honor I believe you asked me to check in the [Inaudible] of the number of colored children that are now attending desegregated schools in the City of Memphis and I have that information.

Earl Warren:

Thank you.

Thomas R. Prewitt:

There are presently 63 colored school children attending desegregated schools in the City of Memphis.

The program of desegregation was commenced in the Fall of 1961 with the first grade and in the Fall of 1962 the second and third grades were desegregated.

These 63 school children do not include an undetermined number of colored children who were assigned to the desegregated schools, but who asked to be reassigned to all colored schools.

I don't have that number, may it please the Court.

I might state this with respect to the schools because it does have considerable relevancy here that on May the 22nd next there is scheduled a hearing in the District Court at Memphis.

Both the Board of Education and the NAACP have presented proposed plans for further integration of the public schools.

Under the NAACP plan, the first six grades would be integrated this Fall and seven, eight, and nine in the Fall of 1964 and the remaining grades in the Fall of 1965.

Under the Board of Education plan, the first four grades would be integrated this year and then one grade a year here after until the program is terminated.

So that is the situation with respect to schools.

Earl Warren:

Thank you very much.

Thomas R. Prewitt:

Now with respect to the parochial school and that has some relevance because the Park Commission operates playgrounds on parochial school property.

Bishop Adrian of Nashville has recently announced that the parochial schools in Tennessee would commence their program of desegregation this Fall on a gradual basis.

Now, up to address myself to the problem at hand, the recreational facilities of the City of Memphis.

The undisputed proof shows these facts, may it please the Court that 56 of the 117 supervised playgrounds, which accommodate 100,000 children in supervised play, are on school and Church property.

The Park Commission in its thinking and in evolving its plan with respect to complying with the Brown case felt that it would not be wise to desegregate the playgrounds on the Church properties and the school properties until those institutions themselves were desegregated.

It was thought that that would not be in the best interest of the people as a whole.

Yes sir?

Arthur J. Goldberg:

[Inaudible]

Thomas R. Prewitt:

I beg your pardon.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

[Inaudible]

Thomas R. Prewitt:

No sir, if Your Honor please.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

[Inaudible]

Thomas R. Prewitt:

Not all of it, if Your Honor please, some of it.

For instance basketball takes place in the school gymnasiums.

Of course baseball would take place on the school playgrounds.