Yes Eddie, There is a country that can!





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Obama’s Victory Speech

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It was the Friday before Election Day 2008.  The sun was low in the sky.  My spirits were also near to the ground.  As the days focused on “change,” turned to months, and near two years, I had begun to lose hope.  Too much time had passed.  The Bush Administration overturned too many laws.  In the recent past, the country had transgressed back into the future.  Others were blissful, certain a better world would come.  I was not confident.  Near an hour before, Eddie, a young man who has lived on Earth for less than a quarter of a century, said he may not vote.  He did not have faith that we, or he, were the change a country could believe in.  for Eddie, “Yes we can” equated to “No he would not.”

Eddie had lost the ability to dream.  As was true for too many Americans, the vision of what could be seemed but an illusion.  For some citizens who, decades earlier, had hoped the country could change, life had become a nightmare.  While this fine fellow may not have experienced a similar sense of dire desperation he did not aspire to do more than he had done.

Twenty-six months earlier, I accidentally discovered Eddie had never participated in an election.  On another occasion, moments after I cast a ballot during a primary campaign, I encountered the knowledgeable fellow. Then, oh so long ago, I learned Eddie had not registered to vote, ever.  When I asked him of his vote in 2006, he admitted, he did not even know an election was held.

I was fascinated, or was I frustrated.  I know not.  I am only certain that more than a year later, when I realized Eddie had submitted his application and received his voter registration card, I was overjoyed.

At that time, Eddie said he only chose to commit to possibly participate in the election process when his college Professor promised he would receive class credit if he registered.  The scholar truly did not expect to feel a deep desire to cast a ballot anytime soon.  Eddie barely paid attention to what went on beyond his personal play.  Parties filled his frame.  Politics, not so much.

Granted, Eddie, an extremely curious soul could carry on a conversation when the discussion turned to government or the economy.  However, way back then, he mostly asked questions and listened.  Eddie was polite when I shared story after story about this political event or that.  He could and did converse on the issues.  Mostly, when we talked, life was the topic of import.

Relationships, realities, reflections, and realizations filled our tête-à-têtes.  In time, we grew closer.  I first met Eddie at the recreation center.  I swim daily and he works as a lifeguard.  Hence, we speak with each other often.

I have witnessed, first-hand, growth I could have never imagined in such a short span.  I always accepted Eddie is very smart.  His curiosity is endless.  Eddie is an eager, enthusiastic student of the world.  He absorbs information like few I have ever known.  It is not what I shared that accelerated his evolution.  Eddie avidly exchanges with everyone.

Perchance, that is why, as the Presidential election became more important to his friends and family.  Eddie began become interested himself.  This fine fellow became the person with whom I could speak when I went to the pool.  He knew what I did.  He read.  He watched.  He tuned into television reports and connected on the Internet.  Eddie was engaged in the election.

Then it happened.  On All Hallows Eve, just before I placed my body into the pool, when I asked if Eddie had voted early, Eddie said, I see no reason to take part.  Barack Obama will win or he will not.  It is destiny.  Our fates are predetermined.  “Whatever occurs,” Eddie explained, “is out of our control.”  He shared his religious philosophies and stories from the Bible to further illustrate this thought.

I tried to reason with him.  I expressed my empathy.  I told tales of when or why I too wondered what was providence and what was within our power.  It was obvious to me, my words were of no avail.  Forlorn, I swam.  What else could I do.  No one can convince another to do what he or she does not wish to do.  I resigned myself to what I could not change, the mind of another human being.  I have long known, people choose for themselves.  Each of us has an effect on another.  Still, true transformations come from within.

As I was awash in water, my mind moved.  I did not think I could offer more to Eddie.  I believed there were no words that might be perceived as wisdom.  Indeed, I am no wiser than he.  I was left to be one with my thoughts.  When I emerged from the concrete pond, I approached Eddie again.

I shared my own story, my personal experience, and why this election, every election means so much to me.  I told Eddie a tale I had offered before.  I first became active in politics as a child.  At age eleven or twelve, I marched with my family in what would be my first Civil Rights demonstration.  

Just before my birth, by law, people of color could not attend school with white folks.  Even after African-American children were finally allowed to attend school with Anglos, there were still numerous other restrictions on persons who were charcoal in color.  Some boundaries were visible, many were not.

“In my lifetime,” I affirmed, “Those whose complexion is dark could not enter a restaurant reserved for people pale of face.”  In the few years that I have been on this planet, segregation was allowed to return to America.  The “privilege” to share a classroom was afforded in the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, and was virtually rescinded.  I asked Eddie to consider the future of the daughter he and his bride had recently conceived.

Yes, in two short years Eddie had experienced much change, within himself.  He was no longer the party person he had been.  His interest in his own education had grown.  The thoughtful chap now embraced knowledge more than he had before, and Eddie always was quite brilliant.  A booklover, likely from birth, intellectually Eddie grasped the veracity of government.  “Eddie,” I quietly exclaimed, “the President picks Supreme Court Justices.  The appointments last a lifetime.”  The Roberts Court has imposed edicts that will not be easily erased, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 Et. Al  

“Oh Eddie,” my voice barely audible at this point, the Supreme Court, under George W. Bush has moved the country to the “Right.”  Some, such as I fear, we have journeyed back more than a century.  Some of the current jurors are elderly.  There is reason to believe a few will choose to step down from the bench.  If we, the people, do not cast a ballot for Barack Obama, I fear the Court, will move farther into the private lives of citizens.

I chattered on.  My characteristic calm demeanor a bit less controlled as saltwater streamed from my eyes. “Eddie, for me, race and discrimination acted out against those of color is not the only issue that must call us to the ballot box.”  There is so much more to consider.  Economic, environmental, and education policies.  “Eddie, think of your college loans, those you may have now and the prospects to pay for your later study.”

“Oh my gosh Eddie,, President Bush may not have been the change I or we would believe in, but he trusted he could do as he wanted.”  I reasoned or attempted to articulate every thought I had, to share my personal history, and relate it to Eddie’s own truth.  Change, I mused, will come.  As individuals or as a country, we may not have control of all occurrences.  Nonetheless, as I learned in Elementary School, “Not to make a decision is to decide.”

In my own life I realized, one by one Americans cast a vote. Collectively, we, the people, choose a President.  The nation’s Chief Executive then selects who will rule the Courts, what regulations he will impose, and which laws he will sign.  “Eddie, in my own life, in yours, we have seen how the President can be the change, or the constituency can be what we believe in.”

Throughout my tearful plea, Eddie was pensive.  He gazed into my eyes.  His stare never left my face.  Then, he asked, was I crying.  Initially, I made an excuse.  “It is the chlorine,” I remarked. Then, more honestly, I said “Yes.”  I tried to tell Eddie how much the election means to me.  I shared my sincerest belief.  The power that each of us has as citizens, if only we realize what we can do when we come together as one . . . My words could not express what I yearned to communicate.  Nevertheless, Eddie thanked me.  He said he would sincerely make an effort to get to the polls, to be part of the solution.

I was at a loss.  I feared I had not said what I might have.  Nor were my words as powerful as they could have been.  In truth, tonight when President Elect Barack Obama stated my sentiments, better than I might ever have done, he said to Eddie what I could not though my tears.  I invite reflection.  Please peruse the words of a man who speaks for all Americans.  Ponder the profundity of “Yes we can!”  

In America, government is as this Presidential campaign has been, of, by, and for the people.  Congratulations and thank you Barack Obama, Joe Biden, you, me, America.  Eddie, I am grateful for your empathy and decision to cast a ballot.  I have faith again; hope is alive. We, Eddie, and all Americans are indeed, the change we can believe in.


Transcript

Obama’s Victory Speech

The New York Times

November 4, 2008

The following is a transcript of Senator Barack Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, as provided by Federal News Service.

Senator Barack Obama: (Cheers, applause.) Hello, Chicago. (Cheers, applause.)

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. (Cheers, applause.)

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — (cheers) — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states; we are and always will be the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

It’s the answer that — that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America. (Cheers, applause.)

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. (Cheers, applause.) Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. (Applause.) I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin for all they’ve achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead. (Cheers, applause.)

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton, and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.)

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady, Michelle Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. (Cheers, applause.)

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Auma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given to me. I am grateful to them. (Cheers, applause.)

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe — (cheers, applause) — the unsung hero of this campaign who built the best — (cheers) — the best political campaign I think in the history of the United States of America — (cheers, applause) — to my chief strategist, David Axelrod — (cheers, applause) — who has been a partner with me every step of the way, to the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics — (cheers) — you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done. (Cheers, applause.)

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. (Cheers, applause.) It belongs to you. (Cheers.)

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington; it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause. (Cheers, applause.) It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy — (cheers) — who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the Earth. This is your victory. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, I know you didn’t do this just to win an election, and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there. (Cheers, applause.)

Audience: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.

And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House — a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. (Cheers, applause.)

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends — though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too. (Cheers, applause.)

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. (Cheers, applause.) To those — to those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you. (Cheers, applause.) To those who seek peace and security: we support you. (Cheers, applause.) And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals — democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope. (Cheers, applause.)

That’s the true genius of America, that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She is a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. (Cheers, applause.)

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons, because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America: the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress, the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed, yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the Dust Bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We shall overcome.” Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: A man touched down on the Moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can.

Mr. Obama:: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there’s so much more to do. So tonight let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century, if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can.

Mr. Obama:: Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

I thank Eddie, Barack, and the American people.  The dream is reborn, and we, as a country, can believe again.  Yes we can!

History Referenced and Realized . . .

Black History: Brown vs. Board of Education

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


BrwnEd

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: Brown vs. Board of Education

From Wikipedia:

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court, which overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9-0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This victory paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.

Much of the ninety years preceding the Brown case, race relations in the U.S. had been dominated by racial segregation. This policy had been endorsed in 1896 by the United States Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which held that as long as the separate facilities for the separate races were “equal,” the segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment (“no state shall… deny to any person… the equal protection of the laws.”)

The plaintiffs in Brown asserted that this system of racial separation, while masquerading as providing separate but relatively equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black Americans. Racial segregation in education varied widely from the 17 states that required racial segregation to the 16 that prohibited it. Brown was influenced by UNESCO’s 1950 Statement, signed by a wide variety of internationally-renowned scholars, titled The Race Question. This declaration denounced previous attempts at scientifically justifying racism as well as morally condemning racism. Another work that the Supreme Court cited was Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944). Myrdal had been a signatory of the UNESCO declaration. The research performed by the educational psychologists Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark also influenced the Court’s decision. The Clark’s “doll test” studies presented substantial arguments to the Supreme Court about how segregation had an impact on black schoolchildren’s mental status.

In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their twenty children.

The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. Separate elementary schools were operated by the Topeka Board of Education under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in twelve communities with populations over 15,000. The plaintiffs had been recruited by the leadership of the Topeka NAACP. Notable among the Topeka NAACP leaders were the chairman McKinley Burnett; Charles Scott, one of three serving as legal counsel for the chapter; and Lucinda Todd.

The named plaintiff, Oliver L. Brown was a parent, a welder in the shops of the Santa Fe Railroad, an assistant pastor at his local church, and an African American. He was convinced to join the lawsuit by Scott, a childhood friend. Brown’s daughter Linda, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school one mile (1.6 km) away, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was seven blocks from her house.

As directed by the NAACP leadership, the parents each attempted to enroll their children in the closest neighborhood school in the fall of 1951. They were each refused enrollment and directed to the segregated schools. Linda Brown Thompson later recalled the experience in a 2004 PBS documentary:

. . . well. like I say, we lived in an integrated neighborhood and I had all of these playmates of different nationalities. And so when I found out that day that I might be able to go to their school, I was just thrilled, you know. And I remember walking over to Sumner school with my dad that day and going up the steps of the school and the school looked so big to a smaller child. And I remember going inside and my dad spoke with someone and then he went into the inner office with the principal and they left me out . . . to sit outside with the secretary. And while he was in the inner office, I could hear voices and hear his voice raised, you know, as the conversation went on. And then he immediately came out of the office, took me by the hand and we walked home from the school. I just couldn’t understand what was happening because I was so sure that I was going to go to school with Mona and Guinevere, Wanda, and all of my playmates.

The Kansas case, “Oliver Brown et al v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas,” was named after Oliver Brown as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster. Also, it was felt by lawyers with the National Chapter of the NAACP, that having Mr. Brown at the head of the roster would be better received by the U.S. Supreme Court Justices because Mr.Brown had an intact, complete family, as opposed to someone who was a single parent head of household. The thirteen plaintiffs were: Oliver Brown, Darlene Brown, Lena Carper, Sadie Emmanuel, Marguerite Emerson, Shirley Fleming, Zelma Henderson, Shirley Hodison, Maude Lawton, Alma Lewis, Iona Richardson, and Lucinda Todd. The last surviving plaintiff, Zelma Henderson, died in Topeka, on May 20, 2008, at the age of 88.

The District Court ruled in favor of the Board of Education, citing the U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), which had upheld a state law requiring “separate but equal” segregated facilities for blacks and whites in railway cars. The three-judge District Court found that segregation in public education has a detrimental effect upon negro children, but denied relief on the ground that the negro and white schools in Topeka were substantially equal with respect to buildings, transportation, curricular, and educational qualifications of teachers.

The case of Brown v. Board of Education as heard before the Supreme Court combined five cases: Brown itself, Briggs v. Elliott (filed in South Carolina), Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (filed in Virginia), Gebhart v. Belton (filed in Delaware), and Bolling v. Sharpe (filed in Washington D.C.).

All were NAACP-sponsored cases. The Davis case, the only case of the five originating from a student protest, began when sixteen year old Barbara Rose Johns organized and led a 450 student walkout of Moton High School.

The Kansas case was unique among the group in that there was no contention of gross inferiority of the segregated schools’ physical plant, curriculum, or staff. The district court found substantial equality as to all such factors. The Delaware case was unique in that the District Court judge in Gebhart ordered that the black students be admitted to the white high school due to the substantial harm of segregation and the differences that made the schools separate but not equal. The NAACP’s chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall – who was later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 – argued the case before the Supreme Court for the plaintiffs. Assistant attorney general Paul Wilson – later distinguished emeritus professor of law at the University of Kansas – conducted the state’s ambivalent defense in his first appellate trial.

Not everyone accepted the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In Virginia, Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. organized the Massive Resistance movement that included the closing of schools rather than desegregating them. See, for example, The Southern Manifesto. For more implications of the Brown decision, see Desegregation.

In 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out his state’s National Guard to block black students’ entry to Little Rock High School. President Dwight Eisenhower responded by deploying elements of the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Arkansas and by federalizing Faubus’ National Guard.

Also in 1957, Florida’s response was mixed. Its legislature passed an Interposition Resolution denouncing the decision and declaring it null and void. But Florida Governor Thomas LeRoy Collins refused to sign it arguing that the state must follow the Supreme Court’s ruling. Tourism and Florida’s popular image probably played a role in its muted response.

In 1963, Alabama Gov. George Wallace personally blocked the door to Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to prevent the enrollment of two black students. This became the infamous “Stand at the Schoolhouse Door,” where Wallace personally backed his “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” policy that he had stated in his 1963 inaugural address. He moved aside only when confronted by federal marshals and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the landmark United States Supreme Court decision, upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation, under the doctrine of “separate but equal” were, in part, tied to the scientific racism of the era, however the popular support for the decision was more likely a result of the racist beliefs held by many whites at the time. In deciding Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court rejected the ideas of scientific racists about the need for segregation, especially in schools. The Court buttressed its holding by citing social science research about the harms to black children caused by segregated schools.

Both scholarly and popular ideas of scientific racism played an important role in the attack and backlash that followed the Brown decision. The Mankind Quarterly is a journal that has published scientific racism. It was founded in 1960, in part in response to the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that ordered the desegregation of U.S. schools. Many of the publication’s contributors, publishers, and Board of Directors espouse academic hereditarianism. The publication is widely criticized for its extremist politics, antisemitic bent and its support for scientific racism.

In 1955, the Supreme Court considered arguments by the schools requesting relief concerning the task of desegregation. In their decision which became known as “Brown II” the court delegated the task of carrying out school desegregation to district courts with orders that desegregation occur “with all deliberate speed,” a phrase traceable to Francis Thompson’s poem, The Hound of Heaven.

Supporters of the earlier decision were displeased with this decision. The language “all deliberate speed” was seen by critics as too ambiguous to ensure reasonable haste for compliance with the court’s instruction. Many Southern states and school districts interpreted “Brown II” as legal justification for resisting, delaying, and avoiding significant integration for years – and in some cases for a decade or more – using such tactics as closing down school systems, using state money to finance segregated “private” schools, and “token” integration where a few carefully selected black children were admitted to former white-only schools but the vast majority remained in underfunded, unequal black schools.

For example, based on “Brown II,” the U.S. District Court ruled that Prince Edward County, Virginia did not have to desegregate immediately. When another court case in 1959 ruled that the county’s schools finally had to desegregate, the county board of supervisors stopped appropriating money for public schools which remained closed for five years, from 1959 to 1964. White students in the county were given assistance to attend white-only “private academies” that were taught by teachers formerly employed by the public school system, while black students had no education at all unless they moved out of the county.

In 1978, Topeka attorneys Richard Jones, Joseph Johnson and Charles Scott Jr. (son of the original Brown team member), with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, persuaded Linda Brown Smith – who now had her own children in Topeka schools – to be a plaintiff in reopening Brown. They were concerned that the Topeka Public Schools’ policy of “open enrollment” had led to and would lead to further segregation. They also believed that with a choice of open enrollment, white parents would shift their children to “preferred” schools that would create both predominantly African American and predominantly European American schools within the district. The district court reopened the Brown case after a 25-year hiatus, but denied the plaintiffs’ request finding the schools “unitary”. In 1989, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit on 2-1 vote found that the vestiges of segregation remained with respect to student and staff assignment. In 1993, the Supreme Court denied the appellant School District’s request for certiorari and returned the case to District Court Judge Richard Rodgers for implementation of the Tenth Circuit’s mandate.

After a 1994 plan was approved and a bond issue passed, additional elementary magnet schools were opened and district attendance plans redrawn, which resulted in the Topeka schools meeting court standards of racial balance by 1998. Unified status was eventually granted to Topeka Unified School District #501 on July 27, 1999. One of the new magnet schools is named after the Scott family attorneys for their role in the Brown case and civil rights.

Birth Of A Notion Disclaimer & Sources

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Little Rock Nine Commemorated; Separate and Unequal Survives


Little Rock 9 – 50th Anniversary

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

It has been fifty years since America sought to integrate its schools.  It was September 25, 1957.  The Little Rock Nine, a group of young Black pupils, crossed the threshold into history.  Three years earlier, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled educational institutions could no longer remain separate and unequal.  Unity in our schools was sanctioned in 1954.  Brown versus Board of Education was the catalyst for change.  However, even after the judgment was handed down, in actuality, few Districts altered enrollment.  Assimilation was slow and frequently forced. 

Two score and ten years ago, a reluctant locality was required to register young learners.  Central High classrooms in Little Rock, Arkansas would receive students from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  The climate was volatile.  The community was up in arms.  The Governor fought for what he thought right, separation of the races. 

Nevertheless, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed school populations would be mixed.  One thousand soldiers  from the 327th Airborne Battle Group of the 101st Airborne Division were deployed to Little Rock from their base in Kentucky.  The troops would accompany young Black students as they entered the High School campus.  The guards would stay with the scholars during the day to ensure their safety.  The Eisenhower Administration was determined to end discrimination.  However, the public was not.  Perhaps, a prejudiced populace was more successful than principled people were.  We did not eradicate the injustice of bigotry.  Racism lives large today.

As we commemorate this historic occasion, Americans face a quandary.  The doctrine we advocate is contrary to what we adopt.  The current Supreme Court, recently ruled in favor of re-segregation.  Educational facilities in local neighborhoods returned to a policy of separatism prior to the judgment handed down only months ago.  The ‘Robert’s rule’ reinforced what was allowed to occur in the last decade or more.

Yet, half a century later, one of the nine speaks with hope.

”You can overcome adversity if you know you are doing the right thing,” said Carlotta Walls Lanier, one of the nine.

Four-thousand five hundred [4500] people joined her.  On the anniversary of the entrance into Central High School, fifty two [52] percent of the school is Black.  One might delude them selves to think this is inspiring; yet, it is not.

Return to a Showdown at Little Rock
By Felicia R. Lee
The New York Times
September 25, 2007

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – When Minnijean Brown Trickey and eight other black teenagers desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., 50 years ago on Sept. 25, they were escorted by 1,200 soldiers through spitting and jeering white crowds.  Those images were beamed worldwide through the new medium of television, and the public response helped propel a civil rights movement energized by the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against school segregation.

On a recent visit to Central High, Ms. Trickey spoke to a self-segregated classroom: whites on one side, blacks on the other.  An African-American student apparently dozed as she spoke.  Students and teachers alike spoke blithely or painfully of the low educational aspirations and achievements of too many black students.  Central, many said, is now two schools in one: a poor, demoralized black majority and a high-achieving, affluent white minority.

Separate and unequal survives.  Only the façade varies.  Americans are subtle in their manner, more so than they might have been in the past.  Nonetheless, ethnic chauvinism, the chill of a cold shoulder, and racial slurs remain.  Fifty years have come and gone.  The United States is still divided.  Hope is but a dream not realized.  America, when will we embrace as our founders put forth, “All men are created equal.”

Source For Segregation . . .

  • Separate is Not Equal. Brown versus Board of Education.  Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  • Little Rock 9 back with pride, By Peggy Harris and Andrew Demillo.  Chicago Sun Times. September 26, 2007
  • Return to a Showdown at Little Rock, By Felicia R. Lee.  The New York Times. September 25, 2007
  • pdf Return to a Showdown at Little Rock, By Felicia R. Lee.  The New York Times. September 25, 2007
  • Supreme Court Rules; Brown Versus Board of Education Reversed, By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org June 28, 2007
  • Historic Reversals, Accelerating Resegregation In City And Suburbs, By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org September 4, 2007
  • Parents Involved in Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1 FindLaw. Decided June 28, 2007
  • School Diversity Segregates Some. Divided Neighborhoods Isolate All

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Today, I was reminded of how deeply divided this nation is.  I read School Diversity Based on Income Segregates Some.  I discovered in an attempt to offer equal opportunities, indeed, schools discovered discrimination remained a dominant force.  School Boards, Administrators, and the community-at-large concluded educational institutions would be more diverse if learners were assigned to schools based on family incomes.  A plan was introduced and implemented.  The outcome was mixed; however, the pupil populations were less so.  Some races, colors, and creeds were abundant within a given institution; others were not well represented.

    This findings were contrary to the expected and desired intent of educators.  School Districts were determined to establish a sense of unity in their local schools.  They did not wish to register or reject students on the basis of race.  Family earnings were used to ascertain eligibility.  Enrollment numbers were controlled; however the outcome was not as predicted.  In a recent New York Times article Journalists Jonathan D. Glater and Alan Finder reported.

    San Francisco – When San Francisco started trying to promote socioeconomic diversity in its public schools, officials hoped racial diversity would result as well.

    It has not worked out that way.

    Abraham Lincoln High School, for example, with its stellar reputation and Advanced Placement courses, has drawn a mix of rich and poor students.  More than 50 percent of those students are of Chinese descent.

    “If you look at diversity based on race, the school hasn’t been as integrated,? Lincoln?s principal, Ronald J. K. Pang, said.  “If you don’t look at race, the school has become much more diverse.”

    San Francisco began considering factors like family income, instead of race, in school assignments when it modified a court-ordered desegregation plan in response to a lawsuit.  But school officials have found that the 55,000-student city school district, with Chinese the dominant ethnic group followed by Hispanics, blacks and whites, is resegregrating.

    The number of schools where students of a single racial or ethnic group make up 60 percent or more of the population in at least one grade is increasing sharply.  In 2005-06, about 50 schools were segregated using that standard as measured by a court-appointed monitor.  That was up from 30 schools in the 2001-02 school year, the year before the change, according to court filings.

    It is not a mystery why this might occur.  Perhaps, as often happens, one child spoke to a classmate of his, stating an interest in a particular school or program.  One mother chatted with her neighbor over the backyard fence.  They discussed her son’s education.  A father, in the local barbershop, mentioned his daughter would enroll in this facility or that.  Another resident of that small community thought the idea a good one.  They too entered their child in that facility. 

    People tend to discuss their decisions with those they know.  Word travels; however not as far and wide as it might.  We are acquainted with those that live near us.  Likely, the person next door or down the street has an income similar to our own.  Common interests are usual among people residing in the same community.  Often, people of one race, religion, or creed associate with those of similar backgrounds. 

    Humans are rarely distant from those they relate to.  In the workplace, the peons have no choice but to converse with those at their level.  Corporate Executive Officers rarely confer with their subordinates.  Middle managements lauds over the people that work for them.  However, they do not frequently lean over and say, “Would you like to join us in a meeting, come to dinner, or call me, just to talk.”  Our children watch us; they observe and absorb the characteristics that they experience.  Our offspring learn from us.

    Young persons typically admire their parents, or at least, those that care for them are an important influence.  We teach the children.  They learn their lessons well.  If we loathe our brethren, we can expect that our offspring will too.

    Hate is a learned response; so too is the gravitational pull to certain “types” of people.

    As we assess the recent report or other news of the day, we might wonder why segregation is so prevalent.  The answer abounds.  We heard it again only weeks ago.  The logic of Supreme Court Justices loomed large.  After assessing the evidence as it relates to Parents Involved In Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1 these esteemed Jurists announced their decision.

    “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for a plurality that included Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. “The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again — even for very different reasons.”

    He added: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

    Again, we must acknowledge the attempts in San Francisco.  That School district thought they did as the Chief Justice directed.  Bay Area locals were resolute in their desire not to segregate on the basis of color.  Yet, they realized their efforts led students into greater isolation.  When School Boards concluded differences in incomes would lead to diversity, they negated an inherent fact.  As cited earlier in this essay, but bears repeating.  Frequently we forget, left to their own devices people prefer to be with their kind.

    I believe this reality is not innate; nor is it healthy.  It is a habit.  Imaginary “boundaries” were developed long ago before any of us was born.  The need to build walls and partitions has been passed down through the centuries.  Generation after generation does as their parents did.

    In prehistoric times, safety and a need for survival might have been a reason for concern.  People were nomads; they did not know, nor did they have the time to become acquainted with their neighbors.  Much has changed.  Civilization led to the growth of communities.  Now, we are connected, in cyberspace, and in cities.  Even those in the countryside are not far from other people.

    I think in order to make change we must be more conscious of our choices and what we accept as common wisdom.  Among the most proverbial conventions is there will always be poor persons. 

    I believe as long as there are underprivileged neighborhoods, there will be disadvantaged schools. 

    Educational institutions in our slums serve students already facing difficulties in their daily life.  The educators willing to teach in these facilities will likely be of lesser quality.  There may be a few committed to a cause; however, this is out of the ordinary.  Books will be borrowed, or cast-off when the elite schools think them obsolete.  Indeed, the pupils in these locals will be fortunate to have text to read.  The Center on Education Policy discusses this dynamic.

    Black and Hispanic students tend to take less-rigorous courses.  Though there are more black and Hispanic students taking academically rigorous courses now than in the past, whites and Asians still tend to be overrepresented in such courses.  In part, this situation results from the lack of advanced courses at high-minority schools.  In particular, researchers have found that schools in high-minority or high-poverty areas often offer a less-rigorous curriculum to begin with.  They thereby fail to challenge students, since they cover less material or give less homework.  This is a problem because research has found that students enrolled in challenging courses?in topics such as algebra, trigonometry, chemistry, and advanced English?usually have higher test scores than their peers.

    There is a lack of experienced teachers.  [Nancy Kober, author of the Center on Education Policy’s report] points out that black students are more likely to be taught by less-experienced teachers than white students.  Researchers have cited this factor as one of the most critical variables for explaining the achievement gap: there is a correlation between higher teacher certification scores and higher student achievement scores.  Teachers in districts where there are high percentages of black or Hispanic students tend to have lower scores on their certification tests.

    Teachers set their expectations low.  Studies have suggested that teachers sometimes have lower academic expectations for black and Hispanic children than they do for whites or Asians.  Kober warns that by setting expectations low, teachers run the risk of perpetuating the achievement gap since they do not encourage black and Hispanic students to follow a rigorous curriculum.

    Resource disparities handicap schools.  Low-minority schools tend to be much better funded and have all-around stronger resources than do high-minority schools. The same relationship holds true for schools in low-poverty versus high-poverty areas.  There is persuasive evidence that this factor contributes to the achievement gap.  For example, data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show the achievement gap between low-poverty and high-poverty schools increased throughout the 1990s.

    Low-income and minority students tend to be concentrated in certain schools.  Kober notes that if a school has high levels of poverty, that can depress achievement for all the children in that school, even if they are from higher income families.  This fact hits Black and Hispanic children the hardest, since they are more likely to attend higher poverty schools than are whites or Asians.

    Student performance anxiety hampers minority students.  Some research has suggested that black students can become anxious about corresponding to negative racial stereotypes in their academic work.  The result, researchers say, is a kind of vicious circle: Black students can be so worried about seeming stereotypically ungifted academically that their anxiety actually makes them perform less well than they could.

    While on paper, Americans declare all persons are created equal, students know in practice this is not so.  Our pupils experience separate is not equal.  Even when “shipped” to schools far from home, they remain detached.  Their personalities are split.  They are the poor mingling amongst the rich.  An education helps; nonetheless, it does not eradicate the deeper divide.

    Discrimination is visible and it is our veracity.  Those that we judge harshly are characteristically the poorest among us.  Frequently and subtly, we deny these individuals their rights, and provide little so that they might achieve their dreams.  They huddle in hovels and call these home.

    Academics argue there is no need for a poor population.  Nonetheless, their perception of why one exists is as skewed as efforts to eliminate poverty are.  What is pervasive is too easily accepted, even expected.  Expert, scholarly opinions, I believe, do not consider the whole or a truth.  It seems what is too real for many is beyond the intellectuals’ ability to grasp.  I offer one authors reading of the problem, and an answer I find troublesome,

    A theorist, a scholar, and a Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, Dinesh D’Souza, writes in an article titled, Why Are There Poor People?

    Mister D’Souza acknowledges and accepts the impoverished are victims of a collective configuration that does not reward them.  He states . . .

    The left-wing view is that poor people are the victims of unjust social structures.  Historically this view is sound.  Slavery, colonialism?these were oppressive institutions that prevented people from exercising their freedom and rising in society.

    The left-wing argument is also an accurate description of the situation in much of the Third World today.  If you take a train through the Indian countryside, you will see farmers beating their pickaxes into the ground, frail women wobbling under heavy loads, children carrying stones.  These people are working incredibly hard, yet they are getting nowhere.  The reason is that institutional structures are set up in such a way that creativity and effort don’t bring due reward.  No wonder the people in these countries are fatalistic.

    However, he continues, “institutional structures” that  keep the poor down do not exist in America.  Dinesh D’Souza states “capitalism and technology” provide opportunities for all.

    [I]n the West capitalism and technology have worked together to lift the vast majority of the population out of deprivation and up to a level of affluence that, in the words of novelist Tom Wolfe, would “make the Sun King blink.”

    So what about the underclass, the inner-city poor that we hear so much about? I agree: it is terrible to grow up in many parts of the Bronx, New York, or Anacostia, Washington DC, or South Central Los Angeles. But that?s not because of material poverty.  Rather, it?s because of the shocking moral behavior of the residents.  High crime rates, the crack trade, and the absence of stable families all work together to destroy the cultural ecosystem and make normal productive life so difficult in these communities.

    This is where the right-wing argument gathers force.  Conservatives contend that the bourgeois virtues of family stability, the work ethic, the respect for education and law are essential for individuals and groups to advance, and where those are jlacking, chaos is the predictable result.  The solution is to recognize that prosperity does not come naturally.

    Such is the attitude, the belief, and the perception of many in our society.  Numerous persons say, the poor do not avail themselves of the opportunities within the market place.  Capitalism offers chances for all.  However, I must inquire, do people of color, those of lesser means and little education, truly have the same prospects the prosperous do.

    I observe that not all in the Western world have benefited from free enterprise; nor do each of us have access to technology.  Entrepreneurship is but a dream for those that have little education and few funds.  People that experience discrimination because of their color or perceived background lack hope. 

    In America, for hundreds of thousands skills are lacking.  Millions of people living in this country are illiterate or not well versed in disciplines that might help them climb from the clutches of poverty.  “Equipment” is not evenly distributed.  In impoverished areas, children are fortunate to have textbooks and teachers that care.  Richer areas [are] more successful in attracting qualified teachers.

    I must ask, if I am born to a welfare mother, a woman that is poor, or not white, will I have an equal chance to succeed.  We know that schools and society discriminate against those whose flesh is darker and those of lesser means.

    If my father had to work as a child to support his family, and therefore, never had the time let alone energy to complete school, am I likely to do well.  If my guardian must work long hours, doing manual labor in order to provide me with food and shelter will she or he be available to assist me with my homework.  Will they be in the room with me when I need reassurance or feel discouraged.  If they are will, they be able to honestly tell me “Everything will be all right, it always is.”

    Can a parent that has little knowledge of schoolwork or experience learning through scientific method teach me the habits that might benefit me, or society?  A child born into poverty does not hope or dream of succeeding as other children do.

    Discrimination leaves a legacy. The harmful effects of segregated schooling and similar forms of discrimination will continue to persist for several decades, studies show.  These effects can persist as a family link: children whose grandparents? educational achievement was limited or restricted may not enjoy the benefits of a family that values or encourages rigorous academics. Such values may simply not be a part of the family?s culture, partly because past discrimination inhibited the grandparents? achievement.  Moreover, other forms of discrimination, such as in housing or employment, can also negatively impact a child?s educational opportunities.

    Home and community learning opportunities are critical. In general, minority children are less likely than white children to have parents with high levels of educational attainment. This factor, together with others such as lower family income and parents? work schedules, may limit the extent to which parents can foster positive opportunities for learning at home, Author of the Center on Education Policy’s report, It Takes More Than Testing: Closing the Achievement Gap, [Nancy] Kober claims. Hence, opportunities such as having access to books and computers?or even being read to before bedtime?may be more limited for minority children. Also, it is an established fact that high-minority and high-poverty communities tend to enjoy less access to such resources as libraries and museums that can benefit children. Finally, if the family speaks a language other than English at home, that can also affect a child?s learning opportunities.

    Good parenting practices need to be encouraged. Parental approaches to learning at home differ, and cultural variations undoubtedly play a role in children?s learning and achievement. However, the most effective practices should be encouraged, although more research is necessary to determine which do provide the greatest benefits.

    Contrary to the beliefs Dinesh D’Souza professes, only in rare cases does a blood relation or guardian teach criminal behavior.  Most mothers and fathers have the best of intentions.  Parents do not work to raise felons.  No matter what their background, color, or creed people have ethics and values, customs, and traditions.  Humans have emotions; they feel for their children.  Moms and Dads want their children to achieve the accolades they did not.

    Frustrations breed the social structure that inhibits achievement.  All the computers, cameras, telephones, and televisions in the world cannot provide the connection a parent might.  Technology cannot substitute for the tender, caring, touch of a Mom or Dad.

    However, in a country where massive amounts of money are a must in order to maintain a menial subsistence, parents may not be as profound an influence as they might be.  They may not be the best role models. 

    Nonetheless, a child can turn to another adult for guidance and quality instruction.  Perchance a teacher in a good school will stimulate the mind and rekindle a heart starving for attention.  Parents, not your own might help to involve an expectant pupil.  That was the hope in the districts intent on initiating socioeconomic diversity.

    The purpose of such programs is twofold. Since income levels often correlate with race, they can be an alternate and legal way to produce racial integration. They also promote achievement gains by putting poorer students in schools that are more likely to have experienced teachers and students with high aspirations, as well as a parent body that can afford to be more involved.

    ?There is a large body of evidence going back several years,? Mr. Kahlenberg said, “that probably the most important thing you can do to raise the achievement of low-income students is to provide them with middle-class schools.”

    Economic integration initiatives differ from each other, and from many traditional integration efforts that relied on mandatory transfer of students among schools. Some of the new initiatives involve busing but some do not; some rely on student choice, while some also use a lottery. And so it is difficult to measure how far students travel or how many students switch schools.

    The most ambitious effort and the example most often cited as a success is in the city of Raleigh, N.C., and its suburbs.

    For seven years, the district has sought to cap the proportion of low-income students in each of the county?s 143 schools at 40 percent.

    To achieve a balance of low- and middle-income children, the district encourages and sometimes requires students to attend schools far from home. Suburban students are attracted to magnet schools in the city; children from the inner city are sometimes bused to middle-class schools at the outer edges of Raleigh and in the suburbs.

    The achievement gains have been sharp, and school officials said economic integration was largely responsible. Only 40 percent of black students in grades three through eight in Wake County, where Raleigh is located, scored at grade level on state reading tests in 1995. By the spring of 2006, 82 percent did.

    “The plan works well,” said John H. Gilbert, a professor emeritus at North Carolina State University in Raleigh who served for 16 years on the county school board and voted for the plan. “It’s based on sound assumptions about the environment in which children learn.”

    While this is impressive, and validates that those of any background can and will improve given quality education, the truer problem, for me, is not eradicated.  Will these Black students find a way to enter college.  Might they cultivate a career that will ensure financial success.  If they are able to accomplish much, when they walk down the street will they be accepted as a wealthy white person would be.  Might a person of color have the same prospects their Caucasian brethren do.  Probably not.

    If we continue, as we have, competing in a free market society will not be possible when the color of your skin is not white.  The wad of bills in your pocket may help; however, perceptions too often take precedence. 

    Before an American child enters the workplace, where supposedly, opportunity abounds.  They must obtain an education.  We place a huge burden on our children if we remain separate as a society.  We can bus our offspring, and perhaps we may have to until parents learn to adjust.  However, asking our young to sit idly for hours while they travel to a world not their own gives rise to other issues.  The most obvious is the plight of the poor.

    As long as we, in the United States continue to have poor neighborhoods, we will have institutions that help sustain the cycle of poverty.  If we send all the underprivileged to the better neighborhoods, who will attend the remaining pitiable properties intended to educate our youth?  Why would we need facilities that favor no one.  Indeed, why do we need communities that propagate a truth that we do not endorse, poverty.

    Let us replace the myth that only hinders civilization as a whole.  Discard what defines our youth and even their elders as deprived .  They, we, are not Black or white, rich or poor, alien or native, advanced or behind.  We are individuals; we must furnish all with what they need to thrive. 

    As Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard cautions, “Once you label me, you negate me.”

    If as a culture we expect Black and Hispanic children to live in low-income families, they will.  If their parents are not educated well, or accepted into society, the children will be less likely to live in neighborhoods that nurture an innate desire to learn.  We must be willing to integrate our neighborhoods, and truly provide the means for all our citizens to live as equals.

    We need to ask ourselves, do we truly wish to endorse a system where everyone is equal.  If so, let us begin to embrace the challenge and create the structure our forefathers’ spoke of.  If we do not we will continue to look for solutions that shift the responsibility to our children. 

    I believe we can live and succeed as a Union.  We need only invest authentically in our offspring, all of them, and more importantly in ourselves.

    If we decide not to fear our fellow man or see him or her as an alien, a stranger, the enemy, or someone we would not wish to be part of our family, then divisions will exist no more.

    Diversity need not be our undoing.  Please let us look at the United States Constitution and allow the principles that guide us to be our truth.  Might we make this country great and preserve our integrity.  We are one and all.

    When you grow up in a totally segregated society,
    where everybody around you believes that segregation is proper,
    you have a hard time.
    You can’t believe how much it’s a part of your thinking.”

    Shelby Foote [Historian, Novelist]

    Poor Schools, Poor Neighborhoods, A Sad State of Affairs . . .

  • School Diversity Based on Income Segregates Some, By Jonathan D. Glater and Alan Finder.  The New York Times. July 15, 2007
  • pdf School Diversity Based on Income Segregates Some, By Jonathan D. Glater and Alan Finder.  The New York Times. July 15, 2007
  • Parents Involved In Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1  Supreme Court Of the United States.
  • Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes.  Washington Post.  Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes. Washington Post.  Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • Parents involved in Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1. Supreme Court of the United States. June 28, 2007
  • It Takes More Than Testing: Closing the Achievement Gap. A Report of the Center on Education Policy. By Nancy Kober.  Center on Education Policy.  Educational Resources Information Center.
  • lliteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice? The National Right to Read Foundation.
  • Richer areas more successful in attracting qualified teachers.  USA Today. April 24, 2006
  • “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” Black America Grieves

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I, as a white person mourn on this day, for every man and woman Black, white, brown, red, or yellow are my brethren.  I feel the pain of all those that have gone before me.  My heart aches most for those whose flesh is darkest.  It seems, try as they might Afro-Americans can never escape the bondage, the bigotry that enslaves them.  The color of their skin shades their every encounter.  I recognize that only days ago, in this duplicitous land founded on the principles of freedom and justice for all, segregation was again endorsed by the highest Court in the country.  The Supreme Court ruled “Schools can’t use race to assign students.” History demonstrates, left to their own devices whites will not desegregate.

    On this Independence Day, I grieve.  I do not celebrate.  I will not shop with abandon.  Nor will I partake in viewing firework displays.  A pleasurable picnic on this date seems disingenuous. The truth of what is in America is a burden I bear.  I ponder the present, and I pronounce; on this Independence Day, all Americans are not free.

    Today, the streets of these United States, are not paved in gold.  Opportunities are not available to all.  Those whose flesh is white are not pure and principled, although they may think themselves to be.

    With one hand, whites extend an invitation to share in the delight of liberty.  With the other, they cast the call aside. 

    African-Americans, those brought to the shores of this independent nation, and their progeny do not profit from a fight for freedom.  Glory was not and is not given to our slave soldiers or their offspring. Our Black brothers and sisters serve this nation; however, few reap the rewards of freedom.

    Granted some scant number of African-Americans have done well.  White persons witness the success of the few Blacks and claim these illustrate the norm.  However, they do not.  Nonetheless, many of our Americans of African decent, are mired in misery.

    White Americans may say this is not so.  They may argue Brown versus Board of Education was a milestone that benefits millions.  Yet, that law, according to Justice Stephen Breyer was reversed on June 28, 2007.  Speaking on the decision Parents Involved In Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1 this Supreme Court jurist stated

    In his written opinion, Justice Breyer said the decision was a “radical” step away from settled law and would strip local communities of the tools they need, and have used for many years, to prevent resegregation of their public schools. Predicting that the ruling would substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race-related litigation, he said, This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret.

    Caucasian citizens contend Affirmative Action laws righted the centuries of wrongdoing.  Yet, dark-skinned Americans dispute this assertion.  Whites work to rescind these laws.

    I would hope no one would think the Voters Rights Act is evidence that Blacks people have equal rights in America.  Any Bill that must be revisited and renewed regularly, does not provide for the people it professes to serve.  I believe it shameful that in the land of the free, Black citizens were not given the right to vote without restrictions until 1965!  To think that years later this law was threatened.  I have no words for such an injustice.  I can only ruminate.  As we “celebrate” this day of independence we must ask, are all our people free.

    While light skin lovelies think all is well; we now live in a colorblind society, down deep, they know that is not true.

    Ask a person of pale complexion to drive to the area of town known as the Black ghetto, or the slums.  Then you will witness an unspoken acknowledgement, independence, freedom, and justice were not afforded to Black Americans.

    Years ago, I was teaching a summer class at a major University.  The esteemed educational institution is located in so-called liberal Southern California. Only seven students enrolled.  The learning environment was ideal.  Discussions were deep and endless.  During the course of this seminar, we spoke of graffiti, and the related art and history of tagging.  We also chatted about what is considered a historic monument, the Watts Towers.

    In my youth, while living thousands of miles from Los Angeles and its surrounding cities, I saw many a slide and photograph of this structure.  I marveled as I observed the 17 separate sculptural pieces built by hand on a residential lot, owned by immigrant Simon Rodia.  Mister Rodia was, for me, an artist to admire.  Upon moving to the area, I immediately sought out this edifice.

    Frequently, in my first year as a California resident, I drove to Watts.  I toured the Towers.  I rambled around the park and the surrounding neighborhood.  I delighted in the experience.  I mentioned this to the adult students I sat with.  Then one afternoon, the group requested we plan a field trip.  “Let us travel together and explore Rodia’s masterpiece.?  I asked if they were sure they wanted to see this site.  None hesitated.  Each expressed their excitement.  I made the arrangements.

    Realistically, I could not commute with the others.  I was teaching at another University hours before our meeting.  That campus was far from the other.  Therefore, I needed to drive alone.  The women carpooled.

    The day was a joy.  The students were thrilled.  We befriended our guide, took photographs, and roamed the grounds for hours.  We saw more than merely the Towers.  We had fun.

    Upon meeting again in class, I learned what I had not imagined.  These seven young women were fearful prior to our trek.  Driving in the inner city was a novel experience for each of them.  Two women of Mexican heritage and the rest of European ancestry never dared drive on the streets of Watts before.  The Compton area, in their minds was a Black compound.  South Central was not on their maps.

    Apparently, even the parents of a few of these ladies thought this travel was not wise.  One father re-arranged his day so that he could “secretly” supervise his daughter?s descent into what he thought was certain oblivion.

    It was not; nevertheless, in America Blacks are not considered as whites.  They are purposely placed in separate enclaves.  The few that “make it out” do so with dollars not easily acquired.

    In our nation, where people are “created equal” and “all men are free,” Black men between the ages of 16 and 24 are more than twice as likely than young white men to be out of school and out of work (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1997)

  • In 1999, median family income for Black Americans was still only $31,778, compared to $51,244 for Whites.

  • From 1989 to 1998, Black American middle class families logged an average of 4,278 hours of work per year almost 500 more hours per year than White families.
  • In 1999, unemployment for Black Americans was 8%, compared to 3.7% for Whites. 
  • Fewer than half (46%) of Black American households own their own homes, compared to the national average of 72% (Changing America, 1999).
  • Black American men earn 71 cents for every dollar earned by their White counterparts.
  • Unemployment rates for Black American youths are three times higher than the national average.
  • Over six million Black children (62%) live in single-parent households (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).
  • Black children do not receive an equal education.

    Research demonstrates that access to quality teaching is one of the most significant factors in improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap.  Yet, poor and minority children have significantly less access to quality teaching.
  • Schools with the highest percentages of minority, limited-English proficient and low-income students are more likely to employ beginning teachers than those with the lowest percentage of minority, limited-English proficient and low-income students.
  • A significant body of research also has found that another indicator of teacher quality in middle and high school is whether teachers majored in the field in which they are teaching.

    Here again, gaps are profound. 

    Classes in high-poverty schools are 77 percent more likely to be assigned to an out-of-field teacher than are classes in low-poverty schools.  Classes in majority nonwhite schools are over 40 percent more likely to be assigned to an out of-field teacher than those in mostly White schools.

  • Level of academic attainment is another traditional indicator of teacher quality, and, again, teachers with master’s degrees are less likely to teach in high-minority, low-income schools than they are to teach in high-income, low-minority schools.
  • Blacks in America do not have equal opportunities.  The were not awarded the independence whites were in 1776.  Even centuries later, individuals with dark complexion struggle to survive.  Many live a life of poverty.

  • Nearly 1 out of every 4 Black Americans (24%) lives in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

  • 3.5 million Black children (31%) live below the poverty level (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).
  • Nine out of every ten Black Americans who reach age 75 spend at least one of their adult years in poverty (Cornell University, Washington University, 1999). 
  • The poverty rate for Black Americans is three times the rate for White Americans (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)
  • The Black experience in the United States of America is not one to be celebrated.  For most, if not all, Afro-Americans in this nation can recall stories, personal anecdotes that affirm they are not free.  Independence was not won nor was it awarded to them.  Thousands of Blacks fought for freedom in Revolutionary War. Remember, among the first persons shot in the name of freedom from the oppressive powers of King George, of England was Crispus Attucks.

    A stranger to Boston, he was leading a march against the Townshend Acts when the killing occurred.

    Yet, Attucks and those Americans of African heritage that followed him did not realize the fruits of freedom.  The Civil War, a battle fought to end slavery only served to enslave Black Americans in a more subtle manner. Afro-Americans are arguably not truly free in 2007.  Racial discrimination is rampant in the USA.

    Frederick Douglass in 1852, delivered a speech that might be aptly delivered today.

    “What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?

    “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.  Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.  For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.  We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.  The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.

    What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?  I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.  To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.  There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

    Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

    America as a nation may have reason to celebrate their independence.  Sadly, all the people that reside here do not.  Blacks, reds, browns, and yellows are not all free.  Afro-Americans, more than any other group suffer at the hands of those that scream the loudest, “Happy Fourth of July.” “Happy Independence Day.”  The question must be asked again and again, For whom?

    Independence Day Fireworks and Findings . . .

  • Supreme Court: Schools can’t use race to assign students, By Bob Egelko.  San Francisco Chronicle. Thursday, June 28. 2007
  • pdf Supreme Court: Schools can’t use race to assign students, By Bob Egelko.  San Francisco Chronicle. Thursday, June 28. 2007
  • Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes.  Washington Post. Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes.  Washington Post. Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • Education, Employment, Economics.  National Black United Fund.
  • Educational Resource Disparities For Minority and Low-Income Children.  Children Defense Organization January 2004
  • Frederick Douglas. Debs – Jones -Douglass Institute.
  • “What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?  Freeman Institute.
  • I.S. Supreme Court, Brown versus Board of Education FindLaw.
  • Justices Reject Diversity Plans in Two Districts, By Linda Greenhouse.  The New York Times. June 28, 2007
  • pdf Justices Reject Diversity Plans in Two Districts, By Linda Greenhouse.  The New York Times. June 28, 2007
  • The Myth And Math of Affirmative Action, By Goodwin Liu. Washington Post. Sunday, April 14, 2002; Page B01
  • pdf The Myth And Math of Affirmative Action, By Goodwin Liu.  Washington Post. Sunday, April 14, 2002; Page B01
  • Voters Rights Act of 1965. United States Department of Justice.  Civil Rights Division.
  • Marchers Celebrate Voting Rights Act in Atlanta, By Hamil R. Harris. Washington Post. Saturday, August 6, 2005; 1:51 PM
  • pdf Marchers Celebrate Voting Rights Act in Atlanta, By Hamil R. Harris. Washington Post. Saturday, August 6, 2005; 1:51 PM
  • Watts Towers Los Angeles Parks.
  • Project aims to identify blacks who fought in Revolution. By Mark Pratt.  Associated Press. Boston Globe. July 19, 2006
  • The Boston Massacre. African American History Through the Arts.
  • Understanding Discrimination Against African Americans. By Dr. Tom O’Connor.  North Carolina Wesleyan College. March 12, 2006
  • Supreme Court Rules; Brown Versus Board of Education Reversed

    Affirmative Action: Separate But Equal

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    It is official Brown versus Board of Education has been reversed.  Providing equal education opportunities to all children, regardless of race, color, or creed is no longer a priority.  The 1954 Court decision that invalidated the principle of ‘separate but equal’ was overturned on June 28, 2007.  This day will live in infamy.  In another of the many recent 5 to 4 split decisions, the neoconservative Supreme Court canceled the promise made to students of color.

    School integration, which was once considered essential, as of today, is no longer practicable.  Perhaps, more accurately, the work needed to improve the quality of education for those living in impoverished areas was not pleasurable.  Now, efforts to unify schools need not continue.  Endeavors to integrate are illegal.

    Today’s Supreme Court ruling, Parents Involved In Community Schools v. Seattle School District Number 1 et al. has basically nullified the construct of racial equality in the schools.  According to the majority, Affirmative Action is no longer thought just.  The conservative Justices deemed this principle an illogical inconvenience.  The Judges in the majority stated students in white enclaves or Black must travel too far to ensure equal access to quality schools.  Justice Roberts declared.

    The districts ”failed to show that they considered methods other than explicit racial classifications to achieve their stated goals.”

    Perhaps, the school system did not demonstrate a means for combating what is the convention. Schools do not have the power to force people to integrate their local neighborhoods.

    Educational institutions are not able dictate who lives in what community.  After receiving this ruling, Districts must relent, cease, and desist.  School Districts will not have the option to open enrollment to those that do not reside in their region.

    Oh, if they could; schools might possibly be given an opportunity to truly teach tolerance.  However, for now, that prospect is but a dream, one Martin Luther King hoped we would realize.

    I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    I have a dream today.

    Sadly, the fantasy faded on this morning in June 2007.  The nightmare is vivid.  Facilitating awareness for diversity is a slow process, made more challenging when elders impose their preconceived notions on innocent children.  If we do not endure, then the forces of “evil,” malevolence will.

    As of June 28, 2007, this newly formed bias will be built into the laws governing school enrollment.  The likelihood is bigotry will  flourish.  Culture clashes are now legal and encouraged by the dominant neoconservative  Supreme Court.

    Thankfully, there was vocal dissent. Justice Stephen Breyer, ardently voiced his concern; however muted in its effect on the final decision.  In his fervent appeal Breyer offered.

    Roberts’ opinion undermined the promise of integrated schools that the court laid out 53 years ago in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

    ”To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown.’

    Justices Breyer went on to express his fury over the fallacy that is now prominent in the Court records.  In commenting on the opinion expressed by the Chief Justice Roberts, that the white students who didn’t get the school of their choice in Louisville and Seattle were equivalent to the black students in Brown versus Board of Education who were denied access to integrated schools in Topeka, Kansas, Justice Stephen Breyer forcefully spoke with some restraint stating . . .

    “You have got to be kidding me, that the efforts in good faith of these schools in Louisville and Seattle to integrate their schools, to make sure that there’s diversity, how dare you compare that to the discrimination of Jim Crow?”

    Nonetheless, it happened.  The words were uttered and the wheels of derision were set more deeply into the structure of society.

    Division may have been the original intent of this Court.  The rulings delivered in this past week would indicate that the Supreme Court is definitively split.  The Conservative Jurists have no intention of seeking unity.  However, whether that is the actual goal long-term is unclear, as much is in this Court.  Chief Justice Roberts declared.

    “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” he wrote

    Apparently, we are to believe that in our attempt to reverse centuries of racial prejudice, which in my mind equates to fear of the unknown, stranger anxiety, or xenophobia, segregation must stand.  Humans will validate their reasons for racial discrimination characterizing these as the “natural.”  The unequal “process of selection” is firmly planted in the minds of many and as of this day mandated by the courts.

    It is quite ironic to this author; as we philosophically battle against the idea of ethnic cleansing elsewhere, we here in America are proud to adopt policies that promote it.  We honor division in our local communities, and presently, with the Courts blessing.

    Perhaps, that has always been the truer agenda.  In placing the newest neoconservative members to the Court, we have awarded lifetime positions of extreme power, to those that practice the policy of “Divide and Conquer.”  It seems some of the standing Justices already accepted the notion of separation as truth. Notably, Justice Clarence Thomas.  This Jurist stated his belief; separation is inevitable.

    “Simply putting students together under the same roof does not necessarily mean that the students will learn together or even interact. Furthermore, it is unclear whether increased interracial contact improves racial attitudes and relations.”

    Perchance, the evidence is ambiguous because Affirmative Action rules, those that advance unity have not been fully embraced or enacted.  Thus, we have this Court case and the oft-repeated belief of Justice Thomas Affirmative Action does nothing to help the disenfranchised.?  Judge Thomas has faith that is was the goodness of one insightful, intelligent, and intuitive individual that altered his life, Father Brooks.  In a March 12, 2007 interview Justice Thomas recounted his tale of trials and tribulations.

    Why is Father Brooks such an important person in your life?

    That was an era of in loco parentis. It was a transition period unlike today when you have these notions of race entrenched. It was a time, actually, when there was no set road map for kids. Father Brooks understood something intuitively, that we were just kids. He knew we were from a lot of different environments.

    Father Brooks made a point of trying to recruit a lot more African Americans to campus in the months before you came. Do you think that recruitment drive helped you?

    Oh no. I was going to go home to Savannah when a nun suggested Holy Cross. That’s how I wound up there. Your industry has suggested that we were all recruited. That’s a lie. Really, it’s a lie. I don’t mean a mistake. It’s a lie.

    I had always been an honors student. I was the only black kid in my high school in Savannah and one of two or three blacks in my class during my first year of college in the seminary. I just transferred. I had always had really high grades so that was never a problem. It was the only school I applied to. It was totally fortuitous. The thing that has astounded me over the years is that there has been such an effort to roll that class into people’s notion of affirmative action. It was never really looked at. It was just painted over. Things were much more nuanced than that?.You hear this junk. It’s just not consistent with what really happened.

    What did Father Brooks do?

    Father Brooks realized that we needed to be nurtured not that we needed it every day but that we were going to have unique problems. When you have six blacks in a class of 550 kids, you need that. We all came from very different backgrounds. That’s something that gets lost in this weird notion of race that somehow you can come from New York and Savannah and Massachusetts and somehow you’re still all the same. That’s bizarre, and it denigrates individuals.

    Father Brooks understood that. He saw people who were individuals who happened to be black who had very different outlooks.

    Might we ask what will become of those that do not have a Father Brooks.  Will they feel as young Clarence Thomas did before he was given the gift that Affirmative Action provides to those without a mentor, as the youthful scholar felt when he first arrived at Holy Cross college?

    I was a kid. I was confused. I was 20 years old. I had no place to go. I had no precedent for anybody going to college. I had no precedent for anybody being in New England. I had no road map. I didn’t know anybody to call. I had nobody to talk to. I had nobody to give me advice. Now, what do you do? You were just a kid, trying to make all these choices.

    Were you angry?

    Sure. I was upset. I was upset with a lot of things. You get there and you sort it out. Look at that neighborhood there [Thomas points to a photo of a desolate strip in Georgia]. How do you go from that to Holy Cross? How do you do it? That’s why some of us were really concerned about throwing some of these kids into those environments without thinking because you have a theory. That’s the neighborhood I lived in before I went to live with my grandparents. Doesn’t look very good, does it?

    There were a lot of changes to absorb. Just to think about it was fatiguing. It’s still really fatiguing. It’s also fatiguing that people assume we all showed up the same. A friend of mine sent me that print there. [A sketch of an African American man, draped over a desk with his hands extended toward the floor.] He has since passed away. He thought it captured my life.

    Does it?

    Oh yeah. That’s why I keep it there. Look at the hand. Look at the exhaustion.

    What sort of exhaustion?

    Everything. Mental. Physical. Spiritual. Just constant change. You just want to slow down. You see people take a walk and you want to, too.

    Mental, physical, spiritual exhaustion, exasperation, this is the legacy that we as a nation are leaving our children of lesser means.  A person can only live without hope for so long.  As the rich become richer and the impoverished plunge further into forced ignorance we can expect that this emotional fatigue will be felt by all of us.

    Perhaps, we, as a country, by promoting principles that further division will experience what comes when the classes are truly separate and far from equal.  Once again, we may witness what comes when people are [class] war weary.  Possibly, rebellion will be the result.  I trust in time revulsion will turn into rage, and why not.  Deep division breeds revolution.

    In just a few short years the craftsman President George W. Bush has created such strife abroad.  Civil War in Iraq is invasive.  With his recent appointments to the Supreme Court Mister Bush has secured the eventual possibility here at home.  If not Civil War, certainly civil unrest may become our shared truth.  Inequitable change often causes conflict.

    This President, master of the message George W. Bush has definitely advanced imbalance.  Most of us accept that President Bush has altered world politics with precision.  He has done so with expediency.  It seems this world leader has not ignored the domestic front.  His appointments have altered the face of the Supreme Court.  The newer members serve to accelerate the schism.  Justice Stephen Breyer may have said it best.

    “Never in the history of the court have so few done so much so quickly.”

    Indeed we as a nation are deeply divided.  We have reason to expect that soon Civil War, will be here.  It is the natural outgrowth of a society divided.  I can only ask that we remember the words of many and take these to heart.

    United we stand; divided we fall.

    ~ Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson,  Abraham Lincoln

    Sources for the Misnomer, Segregation is superior? . . .