My mother predicted this many years ago… and you know… she was right. She said in the 1970’s after the court ordered the integration of the school system in our county and small town in Tennessee, that within 40-50 years we would be back to the same old system…again. My mother when on to say, that it may not reappear the same way as it had before, but in the end, we will see the same results. And my mother was right… right on the merits, right on the design and right on the issues… and right on with the timeframe.
Just sixty years ago, on May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the most important decision of the 20th Century. It was the Brown v. Board of Education unanimous decision that set things into motion, upholding equal opportunity and outlawing segregation policies in education. This struck down the creation of the “separate but equal” doctrine and mindset that so dominated the discussion and debate about public education. This was also a big part of the “Jim Crow” legislation that also included segregation in all aspects of life, employment, transportation, housing, drinking fountains and playgrounds. This also impacted the same mindset in higher education in the development of 20 Black Land Grant Colleges and Universities (1890), especially in the south.
Of course that court decision set off a lot of people throughout America who did not like it at all. Soon, they began creating and expanding private schools and systems alike. In some communities, people began peeling away at the layers of reforms, shifting policies, creating new educational standards, new school models, and reducing funding for existing schools. To go along with this, many chose to move away from urban America to the suburbs and in the process created new communities with new schools, local funding and most of all…maintaining control. With these actions and more, the court ordered policy of integrated schools would have far less of an impact in these new communities due to the fact that there would be fewer people of color living in those suburban communities.
Well… just like my mother predicted… those good old days of “Jim Crow” and mindsets are back again… and the outcomes are not pretty. African American children have the worst well-being of any state, achievement gap is growing, most segregated among major metropolitan areas in the U.S., high incarcerates rates for black men, and the largest private school voucher program of any U.S. city. The real shocker to this whole thing is that this is not happening in the “grand old South,” and the vestiges of the confederacy… but this “new” stuff is happening in Wisconsin.
Dr. Andrew Calhoun, can be contacted at email@example.com, Twitter #AC53, or call 414-571-5015. You can hear Dr. Calhoun each Sunday at Grace Fellowship Church, 3879 N. Port Washington Rd. Milwaukee.