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Fri Jul 12, 2019, 10:58 AM

NYT Magazine: It Was Never About Busing

(I'm posting this in General Discussion because although the issue was brought up in a debate, it is a much broader topic that should be considered well beyond the scope of the presidential primaries)

It Was Never About Busing
Court-ordered desegregation worked. But white racism made it hard to accept.

By Nikole Hannah-Jones

That we even use the word “busing” to describe what was in fact court-ordered school desegregation, and that Americans of all stripes believe that the brief period in which we actually tried to desegregate our schools was a failure, speaks to one of the most successful propaganda campaigns of the last half century ...

The term “busing” is a race-neutral euphemism that allows people to pretend white opposition was not about integration but simply about a desire for their children to attend neighborhood schools. But the fact is that American children have ridden buses to schools since the 1920s. There is a reason the cheery yellow school bus is the most ubiquitous symbol of American education. Buses eased the burden of transportation on families and allowed larger comprehensive schools to replace one-room schoolhouses. Millions of kids still ride school buses every day, and rarely do so for integration.
...
In New York, after activists had spent years pushing the public schools to adopt a comprehensive desegregation plan, about 460,000 black and Puerto Rican students staged a walkout in protest in February 1964. With the city’s white population declining, school officials had maintained segregation through racial assignment policies, keeping white schools half empty while black schools in some areas grew so overcrowded that children attended in shifts, half for four hours in the morning, half for four hours in the afternoon, while white children got a full day of instruction.

After the protest, the city agreed to a very small, very limited desegregation plan that would bus children between 30 black and Puerto Rican schools and 30 white ones in a city of nearly one million students. Still, the backlash was swift. A month after the walkout, some 10,000 white parents, mostly women, staged a protest against “busing.” The organizers knew better than to adopt the rhetoric of the white segregationists down South. Instead they used race-neutral language, saying they were fighting for their own civil rights: the right to keep their kids off buses and in neighborhood schools.

National media converged on the protest, covering it with a sympathetic tone. It was the first known antibusing protest in the country, according to historian Matthew F. Delmont’s 2016 book, “Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation.” While the fears of “busing” in New York and other places “outpaced the numerical reality of students transferred for school desegregation,” Mr. Delmont writes, by focusing on busing, people “gave equal weight to black protests against segregated schools and white protests to maintain these segregated conditions.”

https://nyti.ms/2Jxek15

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Reply NYT Magazine: It Was Never About Busing (Original post)
StarfishSaver Jul 2019 OP
WhiskeyGrinder Jul 2019 #1
Kind of Blue Jul 2019 #2
StarfishSaver Jul 2019 #5
StarfishSaver Jul 2019 #3
mcar Jul 2019 #4
Dorian Gray Jul 2019 #6
StarfishSaver Jul 2019 #7

Response to StarfishSaver (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 10:59 AM

1. Fantastic column. K&R.

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Response to StarfishSaver (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 11:49 AM

2. A great and thorough article. A sad story from a bygone era

that has nothing to do with today

From the author, I have spent most of my career chronicling the devastating effects of school segregation on black children. I have spent days in all-black schools with no heat and no textbooks. Where mold runs dark beneath the walls and rodents leave droppings on desks for students to clear in the mornings before they sit down. Where children spend an entire school year without an algebra teacher and graduate never having been assigned a single essay. And then I have driven a few miles down the road to a predominately white school, sometimes within the same district, sometimes in an adjacent one, and witnessed the best of American education. This is not to say that no white children attend substandard schools. But if there is a black school nearby, it is almost always worse.

The same people who claim they are not against integration, just busing as the means, cannot tell you what tactic they would support that would actually lead to wide-scale desegregation. So, it is an incredible sleight of hand to argue that mandatory school desegregation failed, while ignoring that the past three decades of reforms promising to make separate schools equal have produced dismal results for black children, and I would argue, for our democracy.

It is unlikely that we will ever again see an effort to deconstruct our system of caste schools like what we saw between 1968 and 1988. But at the very least, we should tell the truth about what happened.

Busing did not fail. We did.


Thank you for posting, Starfishsaver.

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Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #2)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 09:23 PM

5. "Busing did not fail. We did."

As I've said before, northern white folks loved integration. They just didn't think they should be the ones to do it.

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Response to StarfishSaver (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 08:36 PM

3. Kick - because liberal Democrats need to read this

The whole thing - it's long, but informative and important.

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Response to StarfishSaver (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 08:56 PM

4. Good information

Thanks.

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Response to StarfishSaver (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 09:27 PM

6. Nikole Hannah-Jones

is so smart and a wonderful writer, and she challenges my thinking about integration and what it means (especially here in NYC) all the time. I love reading her pieces. This was no exception.

Def. read this piece. It's long, but worth it.

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Response to StarfishSaver (Original post)

Sat Jul 13, 2019, 11:02 AM

7. Kick

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