The purchase of the Wade house took place at a moment when the unequal plight of African Americans in the nation's schools was debated by the nation's highest court in what became Brown v. Board of Education. Only two days after the Wade family moved into their new home,the US Supreme Court ruled on May, 17, 1954, that segregated schools were unconstitutional because they consigned blacks to inferior schools and thus inferior status. Across the South,many whites erupted defensively and formed White Citizens' Councils in a movement that became known as "Massive Resistance" to school desegregation.
Massive Resistance never gained the momentum in Louisville that it did farther south--where black children were harassed and some school districts even closed rather than mix the races. Unlike other southern newspapers, the Courier-Journal supported the Brown decision(though not the Wade purchase), and Louisville schools desegregated peacefully in 1956.
Yet the same emotions that caused white revolt farther south may have contributed to the hostility that resulted in the dynamiting. Photos and video footage from 1954 frequently show whites protesting with signs such as, “No Race Mixing!” Black and white children now could go to school together; whites feared what would happen if neighborhoods also became integrated. McCarthyism fueled the fire. The Shively Newsweek editorialized against the Brown decision, calling President Eisenhower "communistic." Millard Grimes, a fiery local segregationist who went on to head Kentucky's smaller Citizens' Council, first suggested in the Shively newspaper that the purchase was a Communist plot.