A Step Back In Time …

In a key event of the American Civil Rights Movement, nine black students enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957, testing a landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The court had mandated that all public schools in the country be integrated “with all deliberate speed” in its decision related to the groundbreaking case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. On September 4, 1957, the first day of classes at Central High, Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called in the state National Guard to bar the black students’ entry into the school. Later in the month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the “Little Rock Nine” into the school, and they started their first full day of classes on September 25.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. attended graduation ceremonies at Central High School in May 1958 to see Ernest Green, the only senior among the Little Rock Nine, receive his diploma.

In September 1958, one year after Central High was integrated, Governor Faubus closed Little Rock’s high schools for the entire year, pending a public vote, to prevent African-American attendance. Little Rock citizens voted 19,470 to 7,561 against integration and the schools remained closed. Other than Green, the rest of the Little Rock Nine completed their high school careers via correspondence or at other high schools across the country.History.com

Sixty-three years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, that separate schools are “inherently unequal.” Sixty years ago this year, the Little Rock Nine, heavily guarded by federal troops, entered Central High School.  Today, much of that progress toward equality in education is unraveling, as a new wave of white supremacy rears its ugly head and mostly-white communities are deciding to re-segregate schools through attrition.

Currently, 30 states have laws that allow geographic communities to secede from large public school districts and form their own. As a result, a growing number of predominantly white, middle class neighborhoods are doing just that and taking their local property taxes with them. That makes racial and economic disparities in adjacent school districts even worse. Almost 50 communities have seceded since the year 2000, according to the nonprofit EdBuild, and a story this week in U.S. News and World Report.

In 1952, the illiteracy rate for blacks 14 years of age or older (10.2 percent) was more than five times that of whites (1.8 percent). More than a quarter of black males (28 percent) completed no more than four years of schooling, compared with less than 9 percent of white males.

The general philosophy, especially in the southern states in the 1950s and prior, was that if African-Americans were kept ill-educated they would remain ‘in their place’ in society. There was also a belief in some areas that African Americans were not intelligent enough to deserve an education. I thought we had risen above such nonsense, but have we? If wealthier white communities pull out of their school districts, taking their property tax dollars with them, that leaves the school district without sufficient funding to provide such things as transportation, textbooks, equipment, building maintenance, supplies and teachers.  Let us think for a moment about the state of black schools in the 1950s …

Students often had to walk to school, as no transportation was provided.  The school year for African Americans was shorter; teacher’s pay was less and the books they used were those no longer needed by white schools, therefore often outdated and in poor condition.

It would be impossible for me to cover all the instances of school districts where communities have seceded, but let us take a brief look at Tennessee, specifically Shelby Country, which includes the city of Memphis. Since the Republican-run state legislature voted to enact the law in 2010, six communities have left the school district.

The impact just one year after the six communities seceded from Shelby County was stark: Its budget was slashed by 20 percent, and declining enrollment has since forced seven Memphis-area schools to close and the district to lay off about 500 teachers in both 2015 and 2016. Tennessee has one of the laxest secession policies in the entire country: In order to create a new city school district, the only requirements are that a municipality has a student population of 1,500 and the support of a majority of municipal voters. Tennessee is one of three states – the other two being Alabama and Mississippi – that does not require approval from any county or state authority.

And while this movement has been going on for many years, it is gaining momentum now, in light of an administration that supports de-regulation of all sorts, including an attorney general who is on record as being a racist, and a secretary of education who is against funding for public schools.  Just last month in Alabama, a judge ruled that Gardendale, a predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood outside Birmingham, would be permitted to secede from majority non-white Jefferson County School District. This, even though the judge acknowledged that the secession was based on racial motives!

race-1-gardendale-sign“Across the country, wealthy communities are drawing their own school district boundaries, often creating bastions of wealth next door to high-poverty, poorly funded districts,” according to Rebecca Sibilia, founder of EdBuild, a nonprofit that focuses on education funding and inequality. Last week, EdBuild put out a report that is well worth a look.

Where does this leave us?  It has the potential to return the state of education in the U.S. to the way it was 60 years ago.  Given that there is a direct link between a lack of education and poverty, it seems inevitable that if this becomes a trend throughout the U.S., we will once again become a highly divided society with race being the dividing line.  With a different Congress, under different administration, there might be reason to hope that the federal government would step in, but in the current circumstances that seems highly unlikely.  Ultimately, I think it likely that there will be lawsuits filed that may ultimately reach the Supreme Court, but that is years into the future.  Meanwhile … the middle-to-upper income children get an education, the poor and non-white children get the scraps that are left over. I can see a situation where ultimately we have to have a do-over of the civil rights era, only this time we have no Martin Luther King, no Lyndon B. Johnson, and no Thurgood Marshall to carry the torch.

This story made me sick to write, but I am fairly certain I will be back with a follow-up or two, as this appears to be a growing trend.  My thanks to Keith Wilson for pointing me to this story.

Images from the past … is this really where we want to go again??? race-2race-3  race-5race-4.jpg

 

 

48 thoughts on “A Step Back In Time …

  1. There is a push for this to happen in my county. Part of the county wants to separate and form their own school district so that their money will be spent on their kids. That area has become super flush with cash the past decade while the rest of the county is pretty poor. Icing on the cake? They’re pushing for this AFTER a bond referendum they forced through to increase taxes for the county to raise over $200 million to pay for more new schools for them. They already had much nicer and newer schools than the rest of the county, but now they’ll have absolute state of the art facilities and equipment while the majority of kids in the rest of the county go to elementary and middle schools built in the 50 and 60s that are falling apart.

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    • What a travesty! And for what??? So their lily-white kids do not have to go to school with African- Americans? I wonder … how far behind can the “Whites only” signs on drinking fountains and restrooms?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, gotta avoid the black kids and “white trash” kids at all costs. Plus they’ll get to deny special needs kids from the rest of the county. If the school in your community doesn’t offer certain services that are needed, you can go to one of their schools currently. If they get their way, they won’t have to worry about mixing with anyone else much longer.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for this re-blog! This is, I fear, going to get worse before it gets better … and after the lessons of the past, it shouldn’t even be an issue … we are all, after all, members of the same race … the human race.

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  2. A sickening trend developing in your country. A country that prides itself on being the “best in the world.” I fear for you all if this is allowed to bite. The ignorant against the defenceless. Frightening.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is sickening, it is disgusting, it is abominable. And I do not understand it. I sometimes think that I have lived longer than I was meant to, for this is not a world I recognize … not a world I can survive in for long. Hugs! ❤

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  3. Sorry to add to the gloom, but this is one of my own set of tipping points. Once people in their ignorance feel the need to exclusivity then you start on the road to the separation of the states, which in turns changes the USA into something like a federation of European states. Now this may work out fine for level headed folk who will gather together in places which might resemble some of the less frenetic European nations. But for those places where the Alt Right gather? banana republic outfits, which will probably be effectively owned by Chinese, Brazilian, Indian or Russian combines.
    Whereas the latter might sound fun and a case of just desserts it will be ‘Bye-bye USA’ and history can record this bunch of fools cluttering up the Whitehouse as being one lot of the prime movers.

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    • Indeed, I must admit that you DID add to the gloom, but …. what you say is entirely correct, and gives me more food for thought. And those thoughts start out with …. the level-headed folk (of which I consider myself one, but then again ….) outnumber the alt-right. So … why can we not win? Why should we let the bigoted bastards take all our marbles? Why? Because the puppeteer Steve Bannon is pulling the strings on the dummy-Trump, and Bannon is as big a racist as any. And soooooo … what do we do, Roger? What can we do? So many of us are doing everything in our power, from writing to marching to organizing protests … and yet, it isn’t enough. Earlier, I responded to a comment from our mutual friend David P, who says he has no hope for anything changing in the mid-terms either. What else can we do, my friend? Tonight I feel rather … hopeless. I even looked into what it takes to renounce citizenship. Almost 5:00 a.m., and I have been researching, reading and writing since 8:00 p.m. … perhaps it is time for a wee nap, yes? Sigh … as Annie sang … “the sun will come up … tomorrow”!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, we can fight with our hearts and nothing else. True love (and the energetic resonance that goes with it) is very powerful against harm and aggression. I could write a book on the subject, but perhaps looking into the ‘HeartMath’ project would be a good step. I don’t think I can post a link here, but (https://www.heartmath.org/gci/) will take you to a page that contains the Global Care Initiative and you can enter into a Global Care room which takes you to a live GPS connection with other visitors who want to connect in peace and love. Every month, on the full moon, the care room fills with people who connect to send love into a situation happening on the globe. They try to raise the Schumann resonance vibration of the earth to bring resolution in peaceful ways. While this all sounds very sort of woo, woo alternate hippy stuff, I believe there is some significant change. A few years ago, the focus was on Kim Jung Ong… He was threatening attack on South Korea and all of South Korean troops were on high alert, fully expecting a missile to hit within the following 24 hrs. There were over 300 people in the care room that night. Messages sprang forth on the message board imploring Ong to reconsider… I myself tried to connect with Ong on a mind basis… Silly sounding, I know, but something changed (without obvious reason) and Ong relented on the attack and called it off, issuing a warning instead. We were so close to a nuclear war that night, people cannot imagine.

        I think if enough people try to mind connect with DT, and suggest that he resign as president (to go back to his fun life as a TV mogul and entrepreneur), he might just do it. Wishful thinking? Yes, but sometimes, wishes come true.

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      • Hi Jill.
        I hold to the belief that there always an option. The first one is to target the mid-terms. Now as we both know from the brilliant efforts from Gronda and Keith there are worthy people who told to the true principals of The Republican Party. Now as much as the ‘boys and girls’ in the backrooms like to gerrymander they cannot sift out the Intelligent and Genuine Republicans from the ‘vox populi’ of the current faux-administration.
        Thus my message is to the overwhelming majority of decent Americans; win back your country, seek common cause for the sake of those to come, for the sake of your children, in the memory of those who fought and died (even if the cause was not always the best). You can get this reprehensible crew out and the hate-mongers can be outed, vilified and consigned back to the looney-tunes culture from which they crawled from.
        I, Roger, of the UK hard-left (grumpy wing) do believe in the ordinary American.
        McCarthy went down and he was a shrewder operator than this bunch put together!
        (And also, they’ve got ‘self-destruct’ written all over their flabby butt-ends- which I assume is from where they do their thinking)
        ‘Whitehouse squatters! You ARE going down! Big time!!’
        Thus speaketh The Voice from Across The Water.

        Liked by 1 person

        • 😀 😀 😀 The Voice From Across The Water speaketh with much sense! I do still hold some hope for the mid-terms, but admittedly it has faded a bit, since it seems there are still a bunch of not-very-bright voters who still believe in the blubbery-butt White House squatters. But we will keep speaking and perhaps, one by one, they will awaken, stretch, yawn, scratch themselves, and either vote properly else stay home on election day! Hmmmm … I wonder if we could offer the republicans an incentive to stay home … ??? 🙂 Thanks for the chuckle today, my friend!

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  4. I taught in several of those racially segregated schools in inner city Miami for almost 15 years where white flight exacerbated the implementation of equal opportunity for all. In terms of my commitment to progressive thinking , my struggles to empower my underprivileged students to read and write competently then became a life changer.

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      • It is about ‘fear’ of anything that is different to ‘you.’ It is about the mistreatment of people (or animals) that ‘you’ consider to be of lower intelligence or worthiness. It is about ‘control, domination and power.’ Those on the weak side of that equation eventually have nothing left to ‘lose,’ and lash out at a governmental system that no longer serves them. Then you see riots in the streets, anarchists (people who do not believe in overseeing powerful government) encourage a break away and you have civilisation collapse. The Whitehouse would do well to remember historical lessons, because DDT obviously has not… I wonder what his schooling record was like, because he obviously does not know his social history of the United States of America!

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        • Yes, sigh, quite so. But the arrogance of mankind will be its downfall, and those who look in the mirror and judge everyone as compared to that mirror image are fools. I am no conspiracy theorist, and work diligently not to fall into the trap of being an alarmist. But at this point, I truly believe that the only thing that will bring about a significant degree of cohesion in this country will be an external threat. I was research assistant to a professor of political science when I was working on my MA, and the these of his paper that year was precisely that … that governments whose populations are irreconcilably divided, will sometimes create a threat from an external source in order to bring people together within the nation. I hope it does not come to that, but frankly, it will not surprise me one bit. I still believe that Erdogan had a hand in planning the ‘military coup’ last July, and Trump seems t take his lessons from the likes of Erdogan and Putin.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, this is well done and breaks your heart. This trend actually precedes the rise of the new President, but he has made it worse with his Secretary of Education. When you marry this secession with vouchers which basically is the government paying for part of privatr education, and it ecxacerbates our stark difference in socio-economic status. This difference is actually the biggest problem in America. And, the GOP solution with education, healthcare and taxes is to make it worse. Why folks do not see this travesty is beyond me. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Keith! Yes, it is heartbreaking and so disappointing to see a portion of the citizens of this country whose attitudes reflect those of 100 years ago. You are correct, this didn’t just begin with the current administration, but my fear is that it will only be exacerbated with DeVos in charge of education and Sessions over the Justice Department. As to your question … I am as puzzled as you … it is almost as if they are under some hypnotic spell. Let us hope they snap out of it before November 2018! Thanks again for this idea!

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    • Yes, Gronda, he is certainly taking us back, not only in this, but in terms of protecting our environment, our health, and our economy. It needs to end SOON, but so many still support him, for reasons that are entirely beyond my comprehension.
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. And I wonder where the three little angels of Clinton Hi are now.
    I wonder whether America should be denied a place at the same table of civilised nations of the World when it’s obviously trying to bring the South alive again and reintroduce slavery.It’s hard to believe there are so many people there capable of these terrible acts. To deny anyone an education because of the colour of their skin is deplorable. I can only hope that no Democratic districts are following suit. I’m worried now that if Trump and his lot don’t go, they might even win again in 4 years by which time it will be obligatory to be Alt-Right and faux Communist.
    xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

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    • You know I agree with every word you say. What is disturbing me the most right now is … until quite recently, I believed it was only a small segment of our population that was bigoted and had shriveled up hearts, but in the last month or so, it seems ever more prevalent. I fear I will wake up some morning to find that 90% of the nation are white supremacists! It makes me furious … and it breaks my heart. 😥 Even some people I once called ‘friend’, people I once thought I knew, are expressing prejudices against LGBT, African-Americans, Latinos, and most of all, Muslims. I want Dorothy’s red slippers so I can click my heels three times and find myself back in the world I once knew.
      xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Racism: A Step Back In Time. – The Militant Negro™

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