A Step Back In Time …

I am repeating this post that I originally published in 2017.  Why?  Because it was on this date in 1957, exactly 65 years ago, that nine Black students were denied entrance to their high school by the governor of the state of Arkansas and the National Guard in direct opposition to the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education three years prior.  Look around today … read the headlines … we are being dragged back into those horrible racist times … schools are effectively finding ways around the laws and once again school segregation is happening … IT IS HAPPENING right before our very eyes.  In 65 years, we moved forward and now are moving backward again.  We need to remember what happened when the Little Rock Nine, as they came to be called, were denied entrance to school and the aftermath.  To forget the lessons of this incident and what followed is to doom future generations to the horrors of living in a racist society.  This is the original post from five years ago …


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

Progress Unraveling

Three years after the Brown vs Board of Education decision that partly struck down Plessy vs Feguson (1896) and called for schools to be de-segregated, Judge Thomas P. Brady of Brookhaven, Mississippi, gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.  The speech is lengthy, but I have culled a few of the most damning parts to share here.  In the event you have the stomach for it, you can read his entire speech here.

  • I want you to distinctly understand that the South does not hate the Negro. I dare say you know little, if anything about the true Southern Negro.  Among the finest characters I have ever known are Negroes.  There is a great deal of genuine affection and understanding between the races.  We have lived harmoniously together with a minimum of violence and bloodshed.  We have nurtured the Negro, taught him, provided for him, educated him and endeavored to make of him a worthwhile citizen.  The Negro has made great strides and the Southern white man is largely responsible for these advancements.
  • There is, as every honest socialist knows, a distinct correlation between the degree of segregation of the races and the numerical strength of the Negro. The reason is obvious.  If in the South the Negro was permitted, as in some Northern States, to obtain the ballot by simply reaching 21 years of age, it would mean that no qualified white man in many counties throughout the South could ever hold public office.  It would also mean that in the halls of Congress, seats now held by competent white representatives would be held by ignorant, incompetent Negroes.
  • While I regret that I must do so, I must nevertheless comment upon some of the intellectual and moral aspects of the reason why the South must remain socially segregated. The average vocabulary of the Negro in the South consists of approximately 650 words.
  • It is because of an inherent deficiency in mental ability, of psychological and tempermental [sic] It is because of indifference and natural indolence on the part of the Negro.  All the races started out at approximately the same time in God’s calendar, but of all the races that have been on this earth, the Negro race is the only race that lacked mental ability and the imagination to put its dreams, hopes and thoughts in writing.
  • Never forget that the leftwing socialist groups are forever grading down, never grading up the intelligence, the industry and the genius of this country! They wish to equalize, thereby reducing to a low minimum the intelligence of America.
  • The Negro, in so far as sex is concerned, is not immoral, he is simply non-moral. He merely follows his natural instincts.  We cannot disregard his utter disregard for the laws relating to theft.  We cannot overlook his proclivity for drunkenness and dope addiction.  We cannot overlook his natural tendency to immorality and violence and subject our children to the terrible consequences resulting from such traits through integration.

He goes on to say that the people of Mississippi, having formed the ‘White Citizens Council’ will defy the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown vs Board of Education and …

  • As long as we live, so long shall we be segregated, and after death, God willing, thus it will still be!

As I read his words, realizing that those very words were not uttered centuries ago, but actually in my own lifetime, I felt physically ill.  A full decade after the ruling in Brown v Board of Education, 98% of school children in Mississippi were still attending segregated schools!

And then, a few years later in 1963, came the brutal murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers in front of his wife and children, and the following year, the murders of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner who were trying to help Black citizens register to vote.  In the interim, the KKK and the White Citizens Council were busily terrorizing Black people in Mississippi and throughout the South.  Far too many members of law enforcement in the South were also members of the KKK in the 1960s and perhaps beyond.

So now you’re wondering, “Why the history lesson, Filosofa?”  Patience, grasshopper … there is method to my madness.

Look today at Florida, Texas, even Virginia.  The states, particularly in the deep south, are using the excuse of Critical Race Theory … something that is not taught in elementary or secondary schools (though perhaps it should be) and something that the average person knows nothing about other than the lies they’ve heard from the likes of Tucker Carlson and others.  They seized on it as an excuse to stop teaching about the racist history of this nation.

Many believe that the current Supreme Court is all but set to overturn Roe v Wade (1973) that gave women the right to make decisions about their own bodies.  There is also talk of the Court attempting to overturn Obergefell v Hodges (2015) that gave same-sex couples the right to marry.  There is also talk of overturning Loving v Virginia (1967) that removed the barriers to interracial marriage.  Given the composition of the Court today, is it such a stretch, then, to think that ultimately, they might also overturn Brown v Board of Education?

Women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and perhaps most importantly, voting rights … all are potentially on the chopping block in this, the 21st century.  States are overstepping their bounds, writing laws that directly conflict with federal laws, conflict even with common sense, decency, and human rights.  This nation is traveling backward today, seemingly bent on destroying the progress of the last 70 years or so.  Why?  I am told that white people fear they will lose their “majority status”.  SO WHAT???  Who cares what colour skin anybody has, or how many white people as compared to Black or Brown people?  Apparently, some people care and those are attempting to change the course of history, to turn this ship around and take us back into the Dark Ages.

Read Judge Brady’s words again … is that a world any of us want to live in?  I certainly don’t.  I won’t.

One Year After Charlottesville …

One year ago today the nation watched … some in horror, some in glee … as the “Unite the Right” rally took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.  One year ago today … an event that took the life of a young paralegal, Heather Heyer, and left the nation reeling, finally understanding that we have not even begun to conquer racism.  One year ago today, the events of the day would ultimately lead us to realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that the president is a white supremacist, that he is a bigot and a racist.CharlottesvilleToday, there is the potential for a repeat performance, this time in the nation’s capital, only because the city of Charlottesville denied a permit to Jason Kessler, the organizer of last year’s horrible event, for a repeat performance.  It was only three days ago that the National Park approved a permit for up to 400 white supremacists to gather at Lafayette Square, directly across from the White House.  Perhaps Donald Trump will go out and mingle with them, even take them some refreshments.

As many as 1,500 counter-protestors are also expected to show up.  What could possibly go wrong?  Perhaps nothing, as DC police are better prepared than Charlottesville police were a year ago.  Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said, “We have people coming to our city for the sole purpose of spewing hate. It didn’t make sense last year, and it doesn’t make sense now.  While we are opposed adamantly to what we are going to hear, we know what our responsibility is — to protect First Amendment events, to protect Washingtonians and to protect our city.”  Let us hope they are able to do so.Charlottesville-3I really wanted to make this post a “look-how-far-we’ve-come-since-then” sort of post, pointing to lessons we have learned and actions that have been taken to stop such performances, to take violence out of the streets.  But as I reflect and ponder, I realize that not only have we not moved forward, but that we, as a nation, have actually regressed since that fateful day, 12 August 2017.  More than at any time since the 1960s, overt racism is a daily occurrence.  Police are called on African-Americans for  such things as parking on their own street, swimming in their community pool, barbecuing in the public park, and just doing their jobs, such as driving a bus or selling real estate.

Instead of looking at the events of Charlottesville and saying, “We must be better than this”, America listened to the words of Donald Trump a day or so after, when he claimed that some white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched that day were ‘very fine people’, and blamed the violence on both the radicals and those engaged in a mostly peaceful counter-protest, such as Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a white supremacist who intentionally drove his car into a crowd.  It was the legitimation, the validation that the radicals needed … it was the ‘green light’, the ‘go ahead’.

Under another administration, a more conscionable president, a more devoted Congress, it is likely that a commission would have been established, such as the Kerner Commission that was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots.  Not a word or a thought of such a commission has been heard from Washington.  Under a non-racist attorney general, racist incidents such as those I mentioned would be subject to scrutiny, guidelines established and communicated to police departments across the nation.  People who called the police because a black person was parking her vehicle on her own street, or walking in her own neighborhood, would be subject to prosecution for calling in a false alarm, or ‘crying wolf’.

The United States has a long history of racism. As recently as 1971, school districts were still trying to find ways to circumvent the 1954 Supreme Court ruling of Brown v Board of Education.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 put an end to segregation … at least legally.  Do you know the year of the last lynching in the U.S.?  1981 … just thirty-seven years ago.  Do you know when the anti-lynching bill was passed by Congress?  No?  Me neither, because it hasn’t been passed yet!  That’s right, folks … during the first half of the 20th century nearly 200 attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation failed to gain support from the Senate despite urging from seven sitting presidents.  In 2005 the Senate took up a rare resolution expressing remorse for never approving a law against lynching, but still no law.

In June, the only three African-American Senators introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to make lynching a federal crime.  Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Tim Scott drafted the legislation which defines the crime as “the willful act of murder by a collection of people assembled with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person.” It also classifies lynching as a hate crime that would warrant enhanced sentences.  The odds of it passing?  Slim to none, in my opinion.  So far, other than Senator Tim Scott, no republicans are backing the bill.  That speaks volumes, folks.

Violent racism, not to mention other forms of bigotry such as against the LGBT community and immigrants, are becoming not only more prevalent, but more overt, more in-your-face. There is no longer any attempt to wear the mask of political correctness, for Donald Trump has told the nation to just ‘tell it like it is’, and that it’s okay to hate, it’s okay to discriminate.

So no, I cannot say that we have come a long way since the tragedy of Charlottesville one year ago today.  In fact, we have back-pedaled at a rate that should earn us naught but scorn from the rest of the world and from those of us in this nation who do not wish to return to the days of segregated schools and Jim Crow.  If there is violence in Washington today, it will not surprise me.  Two thumbs up to the city of Charlottesville for having the good sense to deny a permit to Jason Kessler and his band of thugs.  Starting a riot where people are injured and killed is not … NOT … a part of First Amendment free speech rights.  I can honestly say that I am ashamed of this nation, ashamed of our so-called leadership, and ashamed of the 40% of the people who support Donald Trump.  Those who can still support the ‘man’ who has encouraged the overt violent racism we see today … I’m sorry, but they are not ‘good people’ in my book.

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