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The Firsts: The Children Who Desegregated America by Rebecca Rosen, Adam Harris
The Atlantic, September 29, 2020

Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Atlantic recently published a series of articles about the students who first attempted to integrate American schools after Brown v. Board of Education. These articles are stark reminders of how little has changed in the last sixty years. Our public schools remain deeply segregated and unequal. Equally depressing is witnessing the similarity of the arguments against integration, levied by white parents 60 years ago, to those levied by white parents today. The five articles recount the heroism of the Black students and their families who bravely began the process of integration; they are important reminders, for any American committed to racial equality, of the long, painful history of unequal access to education that undergirds our current moment. Like the podcast “Nice White Parents,” these articles underscore the many ways that parents of color have been silenced or ignored because of the influence of white parents. Teachers of history will find this series helpful in bringing alive anti-racist curricula that will resonate with students as they study what it meant for specific children, often very young, to actually access the education they were promised by the Brown decision. Independent schools striving to live out their values of inclusivity also need to be students of history and to remind themselves of the many ways that even well-intentioned adults failed–and can fail still–to treat parents of color as equal partners in school.

Submitted By: Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

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