2 Fed. Hist. 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/fedhijrl2 and id is 1 raw text is: Federal History 2010

Powers Unusual
Brown v. Board of Education and the Modernization of
Law Enforcement in Florida
By Anders Walker
The federal courts are not a hollow hope. While scholars like Gerald Rosenberg have derided
Brown v. Board of Education for failing to transform southern public schools, critics have not
looked closely enough at the ruling's positive outcomes
in other areas.' As this article will illustrate, Brown en-
couraged southern states to modernize their criminal jus-
tice systems, remove power from local sheriffs, and
reduce vigilante violence against African Americans. To
anyone familiar with the role of such violence in main-
taining white supremacy prior to Brown, this aspect of
the ruling's impact alone is worth recovering.2
While a variety of southern states could be used to tell
the story of Brown's impact on southern policing, Florida
proved perhaps the most generative.3 By 1958, both
North Carolina and South Carolina had drawn direct in-
spiration from Florida, modeling their own tactics on
those developed in the Sunshine State. Much of this had
to do with the leadership of Governor LeRoy Collins
(January 1955-January 1961). Aware that racial violence      Leroy Collins, governor of Florida, January
could jeopardize the finances, future, and sovereignty of     1955-January 1961.
his state, Collins worked closely with teams of legal ex-
perts to centralize, modernize, and improve law enforcement in Florida.
To show how Brown inspired Collins to transform policing in his state, this article will proceed in
three parts. Part I will provide a brief background of Collins. Part II will show how Collins undermined
the autonomy of local sheriffs while deploying state police to track white extremists and curtail black
Anders Walker is an assistant professor at Saint Louis University School of Law. He thanks Oxford University Press for al-
lowing him to excerpt portions of his book, The Ghost ofJim Crow: How Southern Moderates Used Brown v. Board ofEducation
to Stall Civil Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), for use in this article.
' Gerald N. Rosenberg, Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).
2 William D. Carrigan, The Making of a Lynching Culture: Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836-1916 (Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 2004); Christopher Waldrep, Roots of Disorder: Race and Criminal Justice in the American South,
1817 1880 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998); W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia,
1880 1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993); Robert L. Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909-
1950 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980). I use the word modernize loosely, as a general term for increased regulation
of local, popularly elected, autonomous sheriffs. Because the vehicle for this regulation was state police, centralization was a
key factor in the modernization process.
For more examples, see Anders Walker, The Ghost offim Crow: How Southern Moderates Used Brown v. Board of Education
to Stall Civil Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Federal History online

Walker

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