School Resegregation is on the Rise
The gains of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s through the 1970s are collapsing at an ever increasing rate. The effects can be seen in housing, employment opportunities-and especially in education.
Time magazine noted in 1996, “After two decades of progress toward integration, the separation of Black children in America’s schools is on the rise and is in fact approaching the levels of 1970, before the first school bus rolled at the order of a court.”
In recent years, dozens of cities-from Minneapolis to Cleveland to St. Louis-have taken or proposed steps to roll back school desegregation measures. Those cities were joined last month by Boston-a national symbol of the struggle against racism because of the hard-fought battles to establish school busing there in the early 1970s.
The Boston School Committee voted in July to end the city’s racial desegregation program. The vote was taken after a group of white parents had threatened legal action against the school system on grounds that it allegedly discriminated against white children by preventing them from attending schools of their choice.
City and school officials predicted a defeat if the case went to trial.
In a series of rulings in recent years, the courts have acted to overturn plans to achieve racial balance in the schools. For example, in its 1995 Missouri v. Jenkins decision, the Supreme Court ruled that separation of the races was not illegal-only government-enforced segregation was.
Thus, according to the Court, school districts are not required to take steps to rectify situations in which schools happen to be all Black or all white simply because their students live in all-Black or all-white areas.
But this ignores the problem of residential segregation that is created when white families move from formerly integrated neighborhoods into all-white neighborhoods (usually in the suburbs) precisely in order to ensure that their children to not have to attend schools with predominantly Black classmates.
Busing in order to obtain better integrated schools is a tool to achieve better education for all our children. But to be effective, busing must be extended from the cities to all-white suburban districts. In addition, it must be accompanied by a significant upgrading of inner city schools so that parents of all races will want to send their children there.
Finally, this country must retain its historic commitment to public education. Measures like school voucher programs and providing funds to parochial and private schools deprive children in public schools of facilities that are their birthright.
A new civil rights movement is on the agenda in order to turn the schools around, halt the efforts to bring back racist segregation, and provide a massive influx of funds to obtain free quality education for all.
Puerto Rican Nationalists in U.S. Prisons
On July 7, Jose Solis Jordan was sentenced to 52 months in prison on evidence from an FBI informer. He was charged with complicity in a 1992 bombing of a U.S. military recruitment office in Chicago.
The conviction of Solis and his sentencing to more than four years in prison on that type of evidence is another reminder of the U.S. government’s especially brutal repression of Puerto Rican nationalists, a repression comparable to the British government’s persecution of Irish nationalists. Neither government is much concerned about legal niceties when it comes to putting away people who threaten their rule of colonies within their state borders.
Solis now becomes the 17th Puerto Rican nationalist in U.S. prisons, all of whom are serving inhumanely long sentences, up to more than a hundred years.
On July 23, about 250 protesters rallied across from the White House in Washington to denounce both the sentencing of Solis and the U.S. military occupation of the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico.
On April 19, David Sanes was killed in a naval practice bombing on Vieques. His death sparked protests through Puerto Rico. On July 4, tens of thousands of protesters marched on Ceiba to demand that the U.S. navy get out of Vieques.
Over the past year, there has been a renewal of protests against the U.S. government’s persecution of Puerto Rican nationalists, sparked by the hundredth anniversary of the American conquest of Puerto Rico in the Spanish American war.
This long-standing abuse and its long-suffering victims certainly deserve more attention and help. For more information: National Committee to Free PR Political Prisoners, 3543 18th St., Box 12, San Francisco, CA 94110. Telephone (415) 824-7950.