Pro vs Con: How Has School Desegregation Affected the Black Community?
1 year ago
Two powerful arguments for an issue dividing the nation
Each February brings another Black History Month, and while most celebrations revolve around touting the inventions we’ve contributed to the world and chronicling our firsts, there’s something to be gained from turning an eye to the Black history moments that directly influence every aspect of our lives today. In that spirit, we’re examining the legacy of integration in America, especially as it relates to our education system. Today, we ask the question: A full 58 years after Oliver Brown et al v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, how has school desegregation affected the Black community?
We went to the people who are on the front lines to discuss this issue. On the pro school segregation side, we spoke to Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, a research associate for The Civil Rights Project at UCLA’s Initiative on School Integration. On the other side of the discussion—that is, the side that maintains that there are some definite drawbacks to integrating our education system—we tapped Richard T. Ford, George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and the author of Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality. We asked both the exact same questions; their answers have been edited only for clarity and space. Give it a read, then head to the comments to tell us where you fall in this debate. Let the discussion begin:
Genevieve Siegel-Hawley is a research associate for The Civil Rights Project at UCLA
Loop 21: How did school desegregation following 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education impact the African-American community?
Genevieve Siegel-Hawley: The immediate impact of the Brown decision on the African-American community was difficult to discern. Certainly the ruling was monumental for striking down the “separate but equal” mantra that supported Jim Crow segregation in the South. But the 1955 Brown II decision instructed southern school districts to move forward “with all deliberate speed” in dismantling separate school systems, and the pace was very slow indeed. For over a decade, the South met Brown v. Board with a program of Massive Resistance.