Missouri Governor Attempted to End School Desegregation in 1993

Curtis Kalin
By Curtis Kalin | August 18, 2014 | 11:08 AM EDT

As the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri continues to simmer, an old wound from the state’s Democratic governor still hangs over him.

Governor Jay Nixon, acting as the state’s Attorney General in 1993, filed a motion in U.S. District Court to end the court-ordered desegregation program for St. Louis public schools. The program entails the bussing of predominantly black children living in St. Louis City to public schools in St. Louis County, which have large white populations. The program began in 1981.

Nixon was quoted in a local Missouri newspaper on November 22, 1993 saying, “The state has met its obligation.” He argued that while the state may have needed the program in 1981, as of 1993, the state of Missouri had progressed to a point where the program was no longer needed.

When Nixon sought a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, his campaign was marred by criticism from the NAACP over the case. Some in the black community even drew a comparison between Nixon and segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Now that Nixon is embroiled in a racially-charged crisis in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, his opposition to desegregation has percolated to the surface again.