December 8: NAACP Wins Landmark Gibbs vs. Board of Education Case in 1936

0 Posted by - December 8, 2020 - On This Date

Photo credits: Norma Duffin/NAACP

In 1936, with the backing of the local chapter of the NAACP and Maryland State Colored Teachers Association, a man named William Gibbs (pictured left) brought suit against the Board of Education in an effort to equalize salaries for white and black teachers

Gibbs was a teaching principal at Rockville Elementary School.  One of his lawyers, sent by the NAACP, was Thurgood Marshall. This was not the first attempt to achieve equal salaries.  Black teachers, who were often better qualified than white teachers, were denied both additional training opportunities and higher salaries because of their race.  At the time of Gibbs’ suit, black teachers were making about half of what white teachers with the same qualifications were taking home.

Dr. Edwin Broome, School Superintendent, settled the Gibbs vs. Board of Education case out of court on December 8, 1936.  For the next year, black teachers would receive “50% of the difference between what salary they now receive and the salary provided for under the schedule for white teachers.”  Beginning in August 1938, the MCPS teacher salary schedule would make no distinction by race, creed, or color. 

Although this was a victory for county teachers, the out-of-court settlement set no legal precedent, and it took several more years to achieve state-wide equal salaries for teachers.  Gibbs lost his job, ostensibly because of certification problems; but the Teachers Association, anticipating this response, had set up a fund to assist him. 

He moved out of the state and continued teaching.

Reference: (2020) The Effects of Brown vs. The Board of Education in Montgomery County. Retrieved from

* writer/historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.

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