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January 16, 2006

MLK's legacy undone?

The Guardian marks the 20th celebration of Martin Luther King Day with an examination of what many consider to be one of his most lasting legacies, the racial integration of American schools. Despite the widely-held belief among Americans (78% of whites and 66% of Blacks) that progress is being made towards greater integration, the article references a new Harvard study that indicates there has been a steady increase in school segregation over the last 15 years.

[T]he percentage of black students attending schools where most students are non-white increased across the US from 66% in 1991 to 73% in the 2003-2004 school year, according to the report by Harvard's Civil Rights Project and released at the weekend. In the south, where the desegregation effort was concentrated, the number of black students in schools where most students are non-white rose from 61% to 71% over a 12-year period. More than three-quarters of intensely segregated schools serve children from poor families, the report said.

School desegregation is one of the signal achievements of the 1960's Civil Rights movement, both within the US and throughout the world. That there could be increasing segregation, even a return to late-60's levels, strikes at one of the great symbols of America's commitment to racial equality and domestic reform.

Posted January 16, 2006 10:17 PM


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