Positive: New Opportunities for Blacks

14% Whites / 22% Blacks

  • The positive impact has been that now black children can go to any school and get a good education. – Black female, 59 years old
  • They have every opportunity that a white person does. – White female, 78 years old
  • Now there are black administrators, mayors, and governors in the U.S. – Black male, 45 years old

This group of comments suggests that the events of Central High opened the door onto a wealth of new opportunities for blacks. For some, this meant a general increase in the number and type of opportunities available, and a leveling of the playing field, where the same opportunities were open to whites and blacks.  The majority of these comments, however, referred specifically to an increase in educational opportunities.  It is perhaps unsurprising that so many of these comments focus on education, as equal access to a good education can be perceived to lead to a greater chance of success later in life.

Blacks were more likely than whites to name better opportunities as a positive legacy of Central High.  This may be due in part to the fact that black participants were more likely to be aware of the new opportunities available to them than the white participants, who have never had cause to note these opportunities, as they have never been denied them.

Women were also approximately three times as likely as men to suggest this, perhaps for similar reasons to those offered above. It can be speculated that shortly after the Civil Rights movement took off, the Feminist movement gained pace, so the opportunities for women, black and white, improved in general.  This may have led to women of both races having a greater awareness of expanded opportunities for groups whose options had been restricted historically.