Tuesday, May 18, 2010

17 and 18 May: Civil Rights Anniversaries

Two key dates in the history of the US Supreme Court and the Civil Rights Movement:

18 May 1890: Plessy v. Ferguson
A bleak day: The Supreme Court rules that the doctrine of "separate but equal" allows for racial segregation.

17 May 1954: Brown v. Board of Education (Brown v. Topeka)
A glorious day: The Supreme Court overturns the "separate but equal" principle, judges it unconstitutional.

• A nice footnote: in 2009, the descendants of both Plessy and Ferguson formed a foundation dedicated to education and reconciliation.

• A not-so-nice footnote: one of the key pieces of evidence used to overturn segregation in Brown v. Board of Education was a study showing that both black and white children internalized notion of black inferiority, as seen in their attitudes toward dolls of different colors. After decades of educational reform and social change, one would have thought all that a relic of the past, but a new study shockingly confirms the persistence of the phenomenon:
(CNN) -- A white child looks at a picture of a black child and says she's bad because she's black. A black child says a white child is ugly because he's white. A white child says a black child is dumb because she has dark skin.

This isn't a schoolyard fight that takes a racial turn, not a vestige of the "Jim Crow" South; these are American schoolchildren in 2010.

Nearly 60 years after American schools were desegregated by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and more than a year after the election of the country's first black president, white children have an overwhelming white bias, and black children also have a bias toward white, according to a new study commissioned by CNN. (read the rest)

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