For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
60 Years After Brown vs. Board of Ed.: 'Segregation Now?'
WASHINGTON - USA Today reports this morning: “President Obama is honoring the Supreme Court decision that in some ways made his election possible.
“‘Brown v. Board of Education shifted the legal and moral compass of our Nation,’ Obama said in a presidential resolution on the 1954 ruling.
“Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the ruling that struck down school segregation and marked a major turning point in the civil rights movement.”
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, Nikole.Hannah-Jones at propublica.org, @nhannahjones
Hannah-Jones covers segregation and discrimination in housing and schools for ProPublica. Her recent pieces include “Segregation Now: The Resegregation of America’s Schools.” She is author of Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law. She said in a recent interview: “Brown v. Board of Education … understood that resources follow white students in this country, that schools that have a significant percentage of white students get better teachers. They get better textbooks. They get better, really, curriculum. And so, today, that’s still the case. We have not eliminated that kind of connection between resources and race. …
“I focused on the South because, despite what a lot of people think, the South actually did desegregate. And it went from being completely segregated to, within a span of 40 years, even now, to becoming the most integrated region of the country. The South also educates the most black students. So you have the one region of the country that actually did desegregate, and they’re educating the most black students, and they are starting to now slide back on that. And so, to me, it was critical to write about the South first because that’s where we have the most to lose. …
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“In the ’90s, the Supreme Court began to really roll back desegregation. And so, it made it much easier for school districts to get out from under desegregation orders. Prior to that, the Supreme Court had a very high standard, which was districts had to eliminate, root and branch, all vestiges of segregation. But by the ’90s, the court was saying that they only had to do it to the extent practicable. In other words, they didn’t actually have to eliminate it, but if they showed that they tried in earnest, then a court could release them. So, that started to happen. And then, during the two Bush terms, Bush really had a policy of trying to get as many of these orders dismissed. There was integration fatigue. I think people felt like, after 40 or 50 years, that enough time had passed and that we had eliminated anything that could be related to the time before Brown, and any current discrepancies and any current disparities are related to things like neighborhood and poverty and have nothing to do with race. …
“We chose ‘Segregation Now’ not to necessarily say that what George Wallace predicted would be true, because it’s not. What George Wallace and others like him wanted was all-white schools. All-white schools don’t really exist anymore. But all-black schools do. And that’s the segregation today, is that 60 years after Brown, and really, I show through a single generation of one family, integration is gone for many students. …
“The South did integrate. We have never seen true desegregation in the Northeast or the Midwest. And if you look at in terms of neighborhoods and schools, the most segregated parts of the country have — for black people, have consistently been in the Midwest and in the Northeast. …
“When you look at Race to the Top, when you look at No Child Left Behind, we’re still trying to make these separate schools equal. And never in the history of our country have we managed to do that.”
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