The Little Friend Historical Context

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Segregation in Mississippi in the 1970s

In The Little Friend, Tartt writes, "[Harriet] and Hely attended Alexandria Academy, as did almost every white child in the county. Even Odums and Ratliffs and Scurlees practically starved themselves to death in order to keep their children out of the public schools." Later in the same paragraph, Tartt states that Alexandria Academy was an "all-white school." This fact reflects the racial prejudice in Mississippi in the 1970s, an idea subtlety explored in The Little Friend.

One way this racial separation and resistance to the progress of the Civil Rights movement was expressed in Mississippi was in school enrollment. In October 1969, the Supreme Court decision in Alexander v. Holmes County stated that school desegregation had to take place in Mississippi during the 1969–1970 school year. Within a few years, many white students disen-rolled from public schools—about 8 percent alone during the first year...

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This section contains 613 words
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