Journalism in the Public Interest

Discussion: School Resegregation 60 Years After Brown v. Board

The St. Louis Board of Education is picketed by the NAACP for not going far enough to integrate schools July 27, 1963. (Bettmann / Corbis / AP Images)

On May 18, 1954, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled segregation had no place in U.S. public schools. But 60 years later, many grandchildren of Brown v. Board of education are being isolated in poor, apartheid schools. ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones reported on the causes of this troubling trend in our recent investigation into school resegregation in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa's — back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.

In fact, the number of apartheid schools — those with a white population of 1 percent or less — mushroomed from 2,762 in 1988, the peak of integration, to 6,727 in 2011. What is behind this trend? And what does it mean for American students?

Hannah-Jones (@nhannahjones) and NPR's Gene Demby (@GeeDee215) discussed the issue of resegregation and the anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education on Friday, May 16. An archive of the discussion follows. 


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