Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Desegregating Public Schools

U.S. Post Office issued a stamp in 1999 commemorating the desegregation of schools courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/pin/71353975320065661/.

Brown vs Board of Education marked the desegregation of public elementary schools in the United States.  In 1951, Oliver Brown, along with twelve other parents, filed a lawsuit in a Kansas court fighting the "separate but equal" status of American education.  While he lost the case, in 1954, he filed another suit with the Supreme Court and won.  His daughter Linda was able to attend a white school for the first time (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2012/05/brown-vs-board-of-education.html).

In 1957, the cause was further advanced by the integration of Little Rock High by nine brave black students.  A famous photograph showed a student named Ruby, her books in one arm, walking to school surrounded by white parents shooting daggers from their eyes and hate from their lips (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2012/09/little-rock-nine.html).

It seemed the integration of American public schools was complete.  However, that was just the beginning.  Many whites protested by fleeing to the suburbs, leaving the blacks in the city core schools.  In the 1970's, the situation reached a crisis point in Boston where they invoked forced bussing, a move that both whites and blacks protested against (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2014/09/violence-over-forced-busing-in-boston.html).

In the 1990's, my sister-in-law, Ingrid, taught in a North Carolina high school where the majority of the students were black or Hispanic.  The educational system seemed to be letting them down:  some of her Grade 9 and 10 students could barely read.

Today, the schools in Cleveland, Mississippi remain largely segregated.  D.M. Smith Middle school is predominantly black while Margaret Green Junior High School is almost completely white.  Black students attend the virtually all black East Side High while white students attend the overwhlemingly white Cleveland High.  U.S. District Judge Debra Brown has ordered that the Cleveland school board present a timeline for integration.  Former board member Jim Tims says that integration will not be well received by everyone:  "If they feel threatened, or for some reason race bothers them, then they have an option and they're going to leave the schools.  The question is:  Do you want to have 'integration'?  Or do you want to have white flight?" (http://www.inquisitr.com/3105243/cleveland-mississippi-schools-ordered-to-desegregate-after-51-year-court-battle/).

Public school students in Cleveland, Miss., ride the bus on their way home following classes in May 2015.

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