Brown v. Board of Education: How Far Have we Come in 60 years, Not Far Enough

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Brown v. Board of Education: How Far Have we Come in 60 years, Not Far Enough

May 17, 2014 marked the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.  Sixty years ago this week the federal courts decided that it was unconstitutional to separate schools by race.  A decision not made lightly.  There was tons of forethought put into such a decision.  Not only on the behalf of the supreme Court Justices, but also by Black leaders and parents around America. One thing is for sure, Before Brown v. Board:
Blacks have always believed in the value and power of education


(1939, mother teacher children alphabet and numbers at home.)
If mothers couldn't teach at home, they sent their children to school hoping for the best educational preparation.

(Elementary class posing in front of school, Rockville, Maryland 1898)


(75 Sixth Grade children (colored) crowded into 1 small room in an old store building near Negro High School, with 1 teacher. See Bliss report. Location: Muskogee, Oklahoma 1917)



Truth be told, there was always two tracks: If your parents had money, you could have access to better schools.  Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, originally named Preparatory High School for Colored Youth was America's first public high school for black students established in 1870.


(student at Dunbar High School)
While there were Black schools that were resource inferior in comparison to most White schools, there were some schools for Black children that thrived and held a community of parents and educators who worked together to produce the next generation of lawyers, doctors, nurses and business owners.  But, for the most part many Blacks did not have access to great schools.  In reality, no matter how good Black schools became, parents and leaders knew more than anything that to participate in a world ruled by Whites, at some point and time Black students would eventually have to interact with Whites educationally.  How else could Black students finally integrate into such worlds as politics, health and education?   


Still, schools were unequal and there was a serious  academic achievement gap in school attendance and…


College completion.


Limited Job Opportunities led to a Strong Realization that a change was needed in the education Civil Rights fight. 


Many begin to attend schools that looked  better, 

(First grade class of African American and white school children seated on the floor, Albemarle Road Elementary School, Charlotte, North Carolina)



But, the problem in 2014? Now that schools for children of color no longer look like this,


Or this,



We forget about the fact that students of color may still feel like this,

(from I Too Am Harvard Project)


(from I Too Am Harvard Project)


(from I Too Am Harvard Project)


(from I Too Am Harvard Project)


And have to still compete with fewer resources,


(from U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data)



So in 2014, most Black mama’s and mama's of children of color still find themselves fighting for their children to have an equal shot at opportunities.

Many details were left out of the desegregation plans that haunt us today.  Plans to include Black leaders in desegregated schools, or to make curriculum more inclusive were not the primary focus.  Plans to have educators hold high expectations for students of colors and biases were not addressed. So today we all get to go to pretty decent schools, but we all still don’t have the same experience. While Blacks have made progress in education, there are still gaps, cracks that have yet to be filled.  How far have we come? Not far enough.

Do you think we’ve made much progress in education since Brown v. Board of Education? 


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