HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 3

(3) In response to the demands to relieve the overcrowding at Moton High School, three temporary buildings were erected, promptly dubbed the “tar paper shacks” due to the material that covered their long, low framework. The Reverend Leslie Francis Griffin, a local Black leader, minister and member of the NAACP observed that while local Blacks became quite upset at the inadequate gesture, Whites did not see anything wrong with the shacks–if they noticed them at all. Griffin would soon figure prominently in the organized response to the continued inequity the shacks represented.

When Willie Redd, a Black contractor looked upon by the White community as a spokesman for his race, resigned from the Moton Parent-Teacher Association in 1949, Griffin was elected chairman. Griffin viewed this as an opportunity for change from the old accommodationist approach represented by Redd, whereby Blacks attempted to make progress within the system.