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April 1948


Gladys Noel Bates, a teacher in the Jackson Public School system, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Jackson Public School Board for its refusal to pay black teachers and administrators salaries equal to those paid to whites with similar experience and educational background. Mrs. Bates filed this lawsuit two years after the legislature appropriated extra money for teacher salaries. The state's Black Teacher's Association had previously warned officials that if equalization did not occur, there would be consequences. When the legislature refused to mandate equal pay for all, Mrs. Bates filed her lawsuit. While she lost both the suit and her job, her efforts and courage energized Mississippi's black leadership. As a result, the next two decades were filled with attacks on legalized segregation and discrimination.