Wednesday, April 14, 2010


As one of the landmark Supreme Court decisions in US history, Brown v. the Board of Education was one of the landmark steps in the civil rights movement. Honest. It's in the history books and everything. Seems someone forgot to tell the state of Mississippi that though. So the Justice Department had to send them a little memo about segregation. In 2010.
“More than 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, it is unacceptable for school districts to act in a way that encourages or tolerates the resegregation of public schools,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
According to the motion, the district’s practice of permitting hundreds of students — the vast majority whom are white — to attend schools outside their assigned residential attendance zone without restriction prompted a disproportionate number of white students to attend a single school in the district, leaving a number of other schools disproportionately black.

Indeed, evidence in the case suggested that the community regarded certain schools in the district as “white schools” or “black schools.” The United States also asserted that officials in certain district schools grouped, or “clustered,” white students together in particular classrooms, resulting in large numbers of all-black classes at every grade level in those schools.
Yeah, the Justice Department of the US had to remind the Walthall County school district in Mississippi about the fact that they weren't allowed to segregate students any more. I wonder how they're going to take the revelations about the water fountain and lunch counter thing. Or the black President. Bonus points for segregating kids in a county where it's almost a 50/50 split between whites and blacks. That's a a high racist degree of difficulty.

Still, this is all understandable. 1954 was a long time ago; who can remember what landmark civil rights decision came when and applied to what, or if they were even still applicable?

There's a phrase about Mississippi: last in everything and proud of it. I guess they just had to be the last to come in compliance with desegregation. Maybe they just didn't read about it. Doesn't strike me as a big newspaper culture and they might be getting their textbooks from Texas. In any event, the next time someone asks Mississippi, they can answer "Yes, we are somewhat in compliance with historically significant civil rights legislation and Supreme Court court rulings." That's progress.

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