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Segregation Now: ProPublica to Bring Discussion of School Resegregation up North

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In a photo from the exhibit, a business class takes advantage of the Central High computer lab. Students say the outsider’s perception of the school often doesn't match the reality. (Darian Madison/Central High School, Tuscaloosa)

When ProPublica launched its investigative project “Segregation Now” looking at school resegregation 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, many readers saw it as a problem centered in the conservative South. But while we started in the South, which was the battleground in the fight for school integration, it is not home to the worst school segregation – and it hasn’t been for 40 years.

That distinction, contrary to popular perception, goes to the Northeast and the Midwest. In fact, it is perennially blue New York State that has the most segregated schools in the country.

Next week, ProPublica aims to bring the discussion of school segregation out of the South.

We will be showcasing our student photography project, “Grandchildren of Brown: Student Photos on Race in Tuscaloosa, 60 Years Later,” at the Bronx Documentary Center on Saturday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m.

For the project, ProPublica worked with high school students in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to use photography to document race and education through their eyes. The students’ photos complemented ProPublica’s deeply reported piece – co-published in The Atlantic – that revealed how school districts are resegregating once released from court-ordered integration mandates.

Shot by students at Tuscaloosa’s most integrated high school and its all-black high school, the photographs proved arresting at their first showing, an exhibit in Tuscaloosa featuring a student panel. But perhaps more striking is the realization that many of them could have been taken right here in New York City, where a new report by the Civil Rights Project shows that nearly a third of black students and one in five Latino students attend schools where 1 percent or fewer of their classmates are white.

The event next week in the Bronx will feature selected photos from the exhibit, a screening of the short documentary film “Saving Central,” produced by Maisie Crow for ProPublica, and a panel that will include Hannah-Jones and  Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. Two of the student photographers from Tuscaloosa will also be at the event.

See more from our Segregation Now series:

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