It is interesting to think about why some moments in history has a stronger spotlight than others – especially when it deals with the same topic. In school I had always been told that the South was “naturally” very racist and had a strong passion when it came to slavery. When it came to the North they had always been painted as the progressive, good guys. Although the Northerns typically had anti-slavery ideals (due to economic reasons), that never meant they were all on board to accept African Americans as true equals.
In “The Long Movement Outside the South” by Jeanne Theoharris, Theoharris outlines major ways in which the white populations of the North (specifically New York and Boston) resisted and opposed school segregation after the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
According to Theoharris, shortly after the Brown decision, New York had come up with some creative ways to get around having to desegregate their schools. The school board had drawn up school lines in a way which kept white students in white schools and black students in black schools. These lines and segregation had been referred to as “neighborhood schools.” The school superintendent claimed that the schools just so happened to be “racially imbalanced” and encourages district employees to do the same. Another event to be point out was the busing movement, or anti-busing movement. Since the very beginning of Boston’s “attempts” to desegregate school, they had begun to try fixing the gerrymandered school lines. This meant that student of white neighborhoods would begin to be bussed to new schools. There had been much resistance for meant years on this change, even recent ones. Boston’s opposition of desegregation from this article (as well as background info) makes it clear that racial tensions had always been strong, in Boston, in this Northern city.
Just as there had been groups put together by Black parents to help support their children and getting fair education, there had been groups put together by white parents to prevent such changes. This history if the North doesn’t surprise me. In the past few years I’ve become more exposed to this history as I’ve been trying to gain a better understanding for the white North and Souths ideas. It doesn’t surprise me that the white population was so against change. Desegregation was going against ideas that had been passed down for generations. And generational beliefs are hard to fix or alter, most children follow their parents lead without much question and pass it along. If anything got me from this article, it would have to be how adults would really go out of their way to terrorize young students, kids, trying to get to school. I believe something has to be fundamentally wrong with a person if they wish to impose serious harm on a child, much less a child they don’t even know or has done nothing to them.
One thought on “Week 7: Northern Desegregation”
I think you have touched upon interesting points about what was going on in the North during the Civil Rights Movement. While we are talking about why some historical events were overlooked and undocumented, I have come to the conclusion that, despite the efforts to contain the movement against racial discrimination in the South, we still can learn about the North. It is extremely undeniable that people can not unacknowledge the efforts of activists who fought for equality and freedom in cities such as New York and Boston. If these resistance groups did not exist and the white northerners continued to ignore the injustices in the North, we would still be facing school segregation and in other public facilities. However, I also can not deny that these racial biases still exist today and the laws that are meant to protect marginalized groups are rather ineffective.