Little Rock Nine

Fifty years after nine African American teenagers integrated Central High School in Little Rock, AR, the country continues to struggle with segregation and inequality in its schools and beyond.

What steps need to be taken to create a more equitable education system? Check out a sampling of opinions and join the discussion.

Interest in Integration

Terrence Roberts

“I’m convinced that this country is not really interested in integration. If you look at our history, for well over 335 years, if we were to start, say, at 1619, we practiced discrimination, separation of races. And then it wasn’t until 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in the Brown case, that discrimination virtually was declared to be unconstitutional. But if you do something for 335 years, no matter what it is, you don’t come to a screeching halt in 1954, whether it’s the Supreme Court or any other court.”

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Dr. Terrence Roberts
“Little Rock Nine” Student
September 6, 2007

“No Child Left Behind”

George Miller

“Brown v. Board of Education said you had a right to an education. ‘No Child Left Behind’ starts to tell you what kind of education you have a right to. This has been a major re-concentration of federal dollars back to those schools where poor and minority children are going. It’s not perfect. It’s in infancy.

“We’ve learned a lot in this five years and there’s a lot of tune-up that has to take place in this to make it more effective in the future for those children, for those schools and for those neighborhoods. But if the president doesn’t step up with substantial new funding, it’s going to make that reauthorization process very difficult.”

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George Miller
Representative, California
January 26, 2007

Achievement Gap

Margaret Spellings

“Scores are up for African American and Hispanic kids. Highest ever. We’ve made more progress in the last five years than in the previous 28 years on our national education report card. The achievement gap is closing, and it’s working. Kids are spending more time doing reading and focusing on these basic skills that are the gateways to really all other learning. So we’re well on our way.”

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Margaret Spellings
U.S. Secretary of Education
December 14, 2006

Affirmative Action

Charles Ogletree

“The bad news is that Proposition 209, from a decade ago, has literally closed many of California’s schools to African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. The numbers are just dwindling, and they’re getting worse. Not only are there fewer people coming, there are fewer people who want to come, because they see that ‘we’re closed’ sign out there, but it’s getting worse.”

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Charles Ogletree
Harvard Law professor
June 6, 2006

Lack of Opportunity

Wade Henderson

“What I think is encouraging is that we have, at some level, moved beyond the immediate resistance to the problems of race. That is not to say that race is behind us. It certainly isn’t. We have many problems as a society we’ve got to confront. But race is no longer the final arbiter of opportunity in our society as it was when Brown was decided. Today there is a stronger correlation between poverty and the lack of opportunity in our society almost than that of race. That is not to say, however, that you don’t find concentrated poverty among African Americans and Hispanics. Certainly you do. And most poor kids also attend poor quality public schools.”

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Wade Henderson
Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
May 17, 2004

Making the System Work

Cheryl Brown Henderson

“I think what our country is engaged in principally is making sure that we’ll always have a segment of the population that’s operating as second-class citizens. Because any time you have schools that are failing and underfunded, any time those schools are populated by students of color, whether they’re Hispanic or African American, you know good and well that ensures that as adults, they’re not going to be able to be equipped to accomplish and achieve the way others are, and they will remain in that second-class loop. It’s been a continuum. And you have to wonder sometimes if it’s not somewhat purposeful. I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but you do have to wonder, because we know how to make the system work. We haven’t had the will to do it.”

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Cheryl Brown Henderson
Daughter of the late Rev. Oliver Brown, namesake of Brown v. Board of Education
May 12, 2004

Barriers to the American Promise

Bill Moyers

“Race and class remain the great barriers in American life. I mean, 80% of all the white children in America go to schools that are all white. Even middle-class blacks often have to send their children to segregated schools because of where they live. We have made–the country made a great decision with Brown vs. Board of Education, but we’ve retreated so much. We ended legal discrimination. We ended legal segregation. We have now segregation, in effect, that remains the great barrier in our society. We still have to fight to fulfill the American promise.”

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Bill Moyers
Journalist, former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson
May 11, 2004

Fighting for Public Schools

Stanley Nelson

“I think what we have to fight for is public schools that we can send our kids to and be happy sending our kids there. I think that, you know, we found in researching this film and shooting this film was that so many times the schools are terrible and so many times it breaks down on racial lines. Whether it’s Hispanic, white, black, and Asian. You know, still there’s a breakdown in our school system where it results in some kids getting a good education and some kids getting a terrible education.”

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Stanley Nelson
Filmmaker, Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise
May 11, 2004

Education in the Constitution

Jesse Jackson, Jr.

“Today the right to an education is not in the Constitution, so we end up with 50 different state systems, 3,067 different county systems, and 20,000 different municipal systems, all separate, all unequal. Our children find themselves in the barrio schools, the ghetto schools, the trailer park schools without high-quality education. In some Los Angeles, some Compton, there are some school districts that ought to be like a Bel Air. In some Chicago–there’s some Southside that ought to be like the North Side. In some New York, some Harlem, there ought to be a school like upstate New York. And so we have a separate and unequal system that can only be overcome by seeing education as a human right and only the Constitution of the United States can guarantee that.”

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Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Representative, Illinois
January 13, 2004

 

  • devon more

    black power!!!!!!!

Last modified: February 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm