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In the decades following World War II, access to higher education became an important vehicle for expanding opportunity in the United States. The African American–led Civil Rights Movement challenged discrimination in higher education at a time when state and federal government leaders saw strengthening public higher education as necessary for future economic growth and development. Nationally, the 1947 President’s Commission on Higher Education report Higher Education for American Democracy advocated dismantling racial, geographic, and economic barriers to college by radically expanding public higher education, to be accomplished in large part through the development of community colleges. Although these goals ere widely embraced across the country, in the South, white leaders rejected the idea that racial segregation stood in the way of progress. During the decades following World War II, white southern educational and political leaders resisted attempts by civil rights organizations to include desegregation as part of the expansion of public higher education.

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History of Education Quarterly, v. 47, issue 3, p. 328-358.