Monday, June 27, 2016

RACE IN AMERICA - Mississippi Segregation Persists

"In Southern schools, segregation and inequality aren't just history — they're reality" PBS NewsHour 6/22/2016


SUMMARY:  Last month, a Mississippi judge ordered the state's public schools to desegregate, illuminating the ongoing struggle to comply with the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling.  Special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks to Maureen Costello of the Southern Poverty Law Center for insight into how Southern schools can move race relations forward.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The Justice Department recently hailed a federal court ruling affirming plans to desegregate schools in Cleveland, Mississippi.  Desegregation, the court ruled, allows students to learn, play and thrive together.

As part of her year-long look at solutions to racism, special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks with a teacher on how to successfully teach in integrated settings.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT (NewsHour):  The percentage of black and Latino students in what's being called apartheid schools is on the increase, and yet most schools seem ill-prepared to help those students be the best they can be, while reducing prejudice and teaching them to learn to live with each other.

But Maureen Costello of the Southern Poverty Law Center says there are ways to achieve all three.

Maureen Costello, thank you for joining us.

MAUREEN COSTELLO, Southern Poverty Law Center:  Thank you.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT:  The Southern Poverty Law Center has a curriculum that looks at teaching tolerance in schools.  What caused that to happen?

MAUREEN COSTELLO:  Well, before we started this program, we were fighting hate crimes, basically.

Morris Dees, our founder, was bringing civil suits against groups like the Klan, and often the young men who had committed some terrible acts against others were motivated by terrible, terrible hatred, and just complete misunderstanding of what other people were like.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT:  It was mostly race at that point.

MAUREEN COSTELLO:  It was usually race, although, sometimes, it was also ethnicity.

But he was seeing 19- and 20-year-old perpetrators who were going to spend the rest of their lives in prison.  And he said, you know, we have to do something to stop this before it starts.  And he said, we need a school program.

And that really was the beginning of teaching tolerance.  Let's find the best research we can find about how we can reduce prejudice starting at early ages, and let's get it out there to teachers.

One of the issues in American education is that 80 percent of our teachers are white women.

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