What’s the difference? In the legal realm, it’s the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb, according to Robert H. Thomas, Bluffview resident and longtime attorney for Dallas ISD in the desegregation case that was recounted in our August cover story.

The story is lengthy, as anyone who read it knows, and believe it or not, there were still a number of things we left out for lack of space (and in hopes of not losing readers’ attention). One of those things was Thomas schooling me on the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, and I admittedly needed a brush-up on terminology since taking advanced grammar in college.

“A transitive verb is one that has action — somebody doing something, like driving a car. A car can’t drive itself. A car can move by itself, if you put it on a hill,” Thomas says. “Did segregation happen to be, or did somebody segregate? Birds of a feather may want to flock together, so nobody’s forcing them to. That was argued many times. How many times did we hear, ‘They don’t want to go to school with other folks,’ (referring to black students).

“Integration is not the same as desegregation. Desegregate is the transitive verb, and integrating is just the way it is.”

Thus the Tasby lawsuit filed in 1970 that claimed Dallas’ efforts at school integration in the early and mid-’60s weren’t enough. According to the historical articles I found, integration hadn’t made a dent in any of the Preston Hollow area schools; none of them had enrolled any black students before the 1971-72 school year when busing began.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.