Desegregation, Resegregation

This session will explore the history of race and public schooling. How did the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 happen and what did it mean? How has race continued to shape educational access and quality in the United States, why have American public schools become more segregated since the 1980s, and what has the impact been?


Discussion Materials:

Discussion Questions:

  • Why was racially integrated education an important goal for civil rights activists and African American parents? Should it remains an important goal today? Why or why not?
  • Why was integrated education a “fleeting wonder”? What tools were used to achieve integration? Why have schools resegregated in the past three decades?
  • Are the movements to create new cities/school districts (like the one in Baton Rouge) a result of racism? Why or why not?

Some Additional Resources:

  • This American Life Episode 562: The Problem We All Live With, July 31, 2015
  • Anya Kamenetz, “The Evidence That White Children Benefit From Integrated Schools,” NPR, October 19, 2015
  • “The March@50” Episode 3: Still Segregated
  • Gary Orfield, Brown Lecture in Education Research
  • Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation
  • Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg, eds., The Resegregation of Suburban Schools: A Hidden Crisis in American Education (Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2012).
  • Gary Orfield and Andrew Grant-Thomas, eds., Twenty-First Century Color Lines: Multiracial Change in Contemporary America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009).
  • Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (New York: Crown Publishers, 1991).
  • Brett Gadsden, Between North and South: Delaware, Desegregation, and the Myth of American Sectionalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).
  • Matthew D. Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).
  • Matthew F. Delmont, Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016).
  • Ronald P. Formisano, Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
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