Looking Past Little Rock

As reported on CNN, a federal judge recently ruled that Little Rock’s school district has integrated and no longer requires federal supervision. Given that city’s well-documented past, this is a certainly a symbolic achievement and one that deserves praise. It gives hope that the process begun more than a half century ago was not in vain. It can, however, be overstated.

Although court rulings and legislation have done much to abolish segregation in schools over the past fifty years, it would be unwise to assume that segregation in schools has been eradicated. My own research in one rural Alabama county shows that, as recently as 2004, the public school system educates 1199 black students and exactly two whites, while a private school is home to 72 whites and 17 blacks.

The sample size is admittedly small, but it nevertheless shows that in some places, integration has been slow in coming—or has yet to arrive at all.


2 Responses to “Looking Past Little Rock”

  1. 1 Mon
    March 6, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    In too many cases across the nation, integration came and went. “Deliberate speed” quickly became “slow and steady” as your numbers indicate. I think that the case of Brown v Board has taken on such a mythic stance that few are willing to critique the real world inequities that we still seen in education. Derrick Bell has some interesting things to say on the subject–you may want to check out his book Silent Covenants.

  2. March 6, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll put it on the list!

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