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After 65 years, is the dream of Brown v. Board dead?

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Rachel Rhodes

Friday marks the 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that struck down the “separate but equal” school segregation policy, requiring schools across the country to desegregate.


Professor Rooks is an associate professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Noliwe Rooks

Professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Noliwe Rooks, professor of American studies at Cornell University and author of the book “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education,” says that segregation persists in American schools in large part due to white parents’ unwillingness to send their children to schools where they would have Black classmates.

Rooks says: 

"As we look back over the past 65 years following the Brown v. Board decision in 1954, we have to be honest in saying that in many areas that are rural and urban, schools are as segregated as they were in the 10 years following the landmark educational decision.

"In some areas of our country, white children attend schools where 80 to 90 percent of their classmates are white and wealthy.  In those same districts, children who are Black, Latinx and economically vulnerable attend schools with students who are likewise situated.  

"In large part, the issues with achieving and/or sustaining any meaningful or large-scale success with integration is because the vast majority of integration efforts over the past 65 years have relied on white parents choosing, volunteering, or agreeing to send their children to schools with Black children. Time and time again they have refused. Sometimes they have closed whole school districts to avoid integration. In other instances, they have moved to overwhelmingly white suburban communities and made it difficult, if not impossible, for Black children to attend the schools in the district. We have not achieved the dream of Brown v. Board and increasingly, it looks as if it may no longer be a priority for us to even try."


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