The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide series is "Segregation Now," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law." [more inside]
Are our schools becoming more segregated? In 1954 "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka" desegregated schools in the United States... but, it appears that the country is losing ground in this effort. According to an article in Aljazeera America: "African-American and Latino students are less likely to attend racially and ethnically diverse schools today than at any other time in the last four decades. This, almost 60 years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling that desegregated schools, represents a major setback for one of the core goals of the civil rights movement."
Together, Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan starred in one of the most memorable photographs of the Civil Rights era. But their story had only just begun. “True reconciliation can occur only when we honestly acknowledge our painful, but shared, past.” – Elizabeth Eckford. (Hazel would) have liked to have had her own sticker, one that said, ‘‘True reconciliation can occur only when we honestly let go of resentment and hatred, and move forward.’’
On January 6, 1961, the University of Georgia was desegregated when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes were admitted to the University of Georgia, with the ruling issued by U.S. District Court Judge William Bootle. The process had taken lengthy legal battles, following their applications to attend the school starting in the fall of 1959. With the 50th anniversary of that ruling, NPR has two interviews with Charlayne Hunter-Gault (née Charlayne Hunter). [more inside]
A new book begins with a quotation from Barack Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004: "Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." The book is Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation by Stuart Buck. Buck argues that -- per his subtitle -- the "acting white" phenomenon is the result of the desegregation of America's public schools mandated by the famous 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (decision, Wikipedia). Taking this book as a jumping-off point, John McWhorter and Richard Thompson Ford have a 36-minute conversation about the "acting white" phenomenon and its connection to desegregation. (In addition to that video dialogue, or "diavlog," you can download the conversation as a podcast.) [more inside]
Judge William Wayne Justice. 1920 -2009. Appointed to the federal bench in 1968, Judge Justice spent his career as a progressive jurist working to insure the rights of minorities, the poor and the disenfranchised. His rulings forced the State of Texas to desegregate public schools, reform its prison system and provide education to undocumented immigrants.
Through a Lens Darkly - on September 4, 1957, when 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Little Rock Central High, she was blocked by the National Guard and surrounded by a screaming mob of 250: "Lynch her! Lynch her!" "No nigger bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!" "Go back to where you came from!" Looking for a friendly face, she turned to an old woman, who spat on her. Photos. Dramatic news footage. Ernest Green, another of the Little Rock 9 recalls the first day of school. [more inside]
The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was created in 1956 by the Mississippi Legislature in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The Commission's express purpose was to "do and perform any and all acts and things deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states." In other words, it was an official tax-funded agency to combat the activities of the Civil Rights Movement. Their records are now online. [MI]