Public Schools, Race and the LawThe Legal Legacy of Segregation and American Education
Racial Segregation was a response by Southern Whites to Emancipation and the end of Reconstruction
Reconstruction had established rural public education & integrated cityschool systems for African-Americans for the first time in American history
“Jim Crow” Segregation was established by a twofold strategy: 1) Mob violence against African-Americans 2) Southern Democratic state governments passing laws that defied the 14th and 15th amendments
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) •Plessy violated Louisiana’s Act 111, mandating separate railway cars for Blacks and Whites. •7-1 Decision. Opinion authored by Justice Henry Billings Brown. •Rejected the view that segregation violated the 14th Amendment so long as the facilities Homer Plessy were “Separate but Equal” JUSTICE JOHN HARLAN’S DISSENT:“Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor toleratesclasses among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equalbefore the law.”
“Separate but Equal” – Plessy unleashed de jure Segregation across the South
Brown v. The Board of Education (1954)•Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson•Unanimous decision – opinion authored by Chief Justice Earl Warren•Combined five NAACP sponsored cases against de jure school segregation“We conclude that, in the field of publiceducation, the doctrine of ‘separate but equalhas no place. Separate educational facilities areinherently unequal.”
Brown II. (1955) “All Deliberate Speed….”School desegregation….more “deliberate” than “speedy” inpractice
Griffin v. County School Board of Prince EdwardCounty (1964) County school board attempted to avoid court-ordered desegregation by closing all of the public schools and issuing vouchers to students for private schools. All private schools were for Whites only. Unanimous decision. Opinion authored by Justice Hugo Black “The time for mere "deliberate speed" has run out, and that phrase can no longer justify denying these Prince Edward County school children their constitutional rights to an education equal to that afforded by the public schools in the other parts of Virginia”.
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971) Unanimous decision – authored by Chief Justice Burger Charlotte, North Carolina had used voluntary methods and limited busing to “neighborhood schools” to integrate to a small degree Built upon the Green v. County School Board (1968) decision that said “Choice Plans” were insufficient tool for promoting school integration Granted the Federal courts the power to order forced busing of students to achieve racial integration School desegregation plans now had to consider and remediate de facto racial segregation resulting from housing patterns. “Forced Busing” became one of the most explosive education issues of the 1970’s
PONTIAC, MICHIGAN 10 School district buses weredynamited in a racially polarized city by undergroundmembers of the Ku Klux Klan
Milliken v. Bradley (1974)Sharply limited the power of Federal courts to order busingacross school district lines simply to achieve a particularracial balance (i.e. City –Suburbs)Case involved 53 school districts in Detroit and its mostly white suburbs and theissue of “white flight”5-4 Split decision - bitterly divided – opinion authored bty Chief Justice Burger•Courts needed to find de jure collusion between districts to segregate to ordercross-district busing•Busing students to hit particular numerical racial targets in schools orclassrooms is not a valid reason in itself for busing•Judges are not qualified to assume duties of regional school superintendentsor of the legislature in forcing consolidation of school systems•The scope of the remedy must be determined by the nature of the Constitutionalviolation
Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc. v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County (Ky.) Board of Education (2007) School districts are prohibited from assigning students or denying them admission to schools based on race simply for the goal of integrationSplit decision – bitterly divided – opinion authored by Chief Justice John Robertson a complicated mix of cases•Mandatory plans need to relate to the harm caused by prior de jure segregation•Achieving racial balance is not a compelling state interest and “patentlyunconstitutional” as a mandatory goal.•“Diversity” as a goal requires race be one part of a broader array ofconsiderations.•Solutions should be narrowly tailored and districts must show they considered“race neutral” tools and not just race based ones.
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY1. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=163&invol=5372. Wikipedia. “Plessy v. Ferguson”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plessy_v._Ferguson3. Taylor, Branch. Pillar of Fire. 1998. Simon & Schuster. New York, NY. 60-64, 181.4. Foner, Eric. Nothing but Freedom: Emancipation and its Legacy. 1984. Louisiana State University Press.5. http://brownvboard.org/6. Friedman, Lawrence M. American Law: An Introduction. 1998. W.W. Norton & Co. 221-224, 296, 298-300, 304.7. http://www.lib.umich.edu/exhibits/brownarchive/8. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18535329. Wikipedia. “Brown v. The Board”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education10. http://afroamhistory.about.com/cs/littlerockhigh/a/littlerocknine.htm11. GRIFFIN v. SCHOOL BOARD, 377 U.S. 218 (1964 ). http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=377&page=21812. Wikipedia. “Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swann_v._Charlotte-Mecklenburg_Board_of_Education13. Wikipedia. “Miliken v. Bradley”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milliken_v._Bradley14. My Wonderful World Blog. “Brown v. the Board of Education: A Geographic Review”. http://blog.mywonderfulworld.org/2009/02/february-is-black-history-month.html15. The Detroit News.com. 1997. “Irene McCabe and her Battle Against Busing”. http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=16116. MILLIKEN v. BRADLEY, 418 U.S. 717 (1974). http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=418&invol=71717. Wikipedia. “Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parents_Involved_in_Community_Schools_v._Seattle_School_District_No._1