White Flight Fuels the Growth of Edmond
Following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, Oklahoma City optometrist, A.L. Dowell, an African American, sued the Oklahoma City school system in 1961 after his son was not allowed to attend Northeast High School. His son wanted to take courses offered at Northeast that were not offered at his all-Black Douglass High School. Dowell won the suit when the U.S. District Court ruled, in 1963, that Oklahoma City Public Schools segregated students by race. As a result, Oklahoma City Public Schools were forced to desegregate and implement forced busing, which meant students were bused to schools outside their neighborhoods in order to integrate schools. As a result, thousands of white families left Oklahoma City for the suburbs and many of these families moved to Edmond. Edmond’s population in the 1960s and 1970s exploded due to this “white flight,” which only reinforced Edmond’s reputation as an all-white town. This influx of white students into Edmond Public Schools meant that Central State College became the de facto leader for integrating Edmond.
In 1972, Oklahoma City Public Schools began implementing forced busing to integrate the schools. This upheaval in the Oklahoma City schools caused more Oklahoma City residents to flee to Edmond and other suburbs during the 1960s and 1970s. Edmond’s population grew 94% in the 1960s and 108% in the 1970s, going from a population of 8,577 in 1960 to 34,637 in 1980, a 303% increase in two decades.