Ten Years After: A History of Roma School Desegregation in Central and Eastern Europe

Ten Years After: A History of Roma School Desegregation in Central and Eastern Europe

Ten Years After: A History of Roma School Desegregation in Central and Eastern Europe

Ten Years After: A History of Roma School Desegregation in Central and Eastern Europe

Synopsis

Roma rights have emerged on the political agenda of Eastern Europe. School segregation is one of the hottest issues. Each country has developed its own approach, with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania being more visible in the desegregation process. The volume presents the results collated in the frames of the fact finding project led by the editor. The analysis includes the examination of a large number of legal documents and policy statements issued by national authorities and the international community on the matter. A critical overview is also made about the various Roma-specific political campaigns on national and European scale. The second half of the book contains interviews with activists that assumed a leading role in school desegregation. These testimony pieces have been critically reviewed by educational and policy analysts from the concerned countries.

Excerpt

The Roma people of Central and Eastern Europe have long been the victims of systemic discrimination, segregation and social marginalization. A movement to overcome this legacy has gradually taken shape during the two decades since the fall of communism and the transition to democracy in the region. The Roma Rights Movement has civic, legal and political dimensions, and is the subject of this groundbreaking and insightful study by Iulius Rostas and his colleagues.

The Roma Rights Movement bears some similarities to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Both are aimed at rectifying the wrongs of centuries of institutionalized racism. Both are seeking to change public opinion about the victims of discrimination. Both are working to influence public policy responses. And both movements have encountered organized social and political resistance from the majority population. Despite these similarities, there are major differences between the two movements, and the results so far have been markedly different: African-Americans have achieved substantial civil rights gains in the United States, while progress for Roma rights in Central and Eastern Europe has been minimal.

Desegregation efforts in the United States began in the 1930s, and gathered pace after World War II. During the presidency of Harry Truman, who was re-elected in 1948 with an overwhelming majority of black votes, executive measures were taken to spur civil rights progress. Truman desegregated the armed forces, appointed the first federal black judge and established the first President’s Committee on Civil Rights. The media in the dawning age of television raised public awareness of racial segregation. During this period rural Southern blacks began a massive migration to the North and Midwest in search of jobs in the booming post-war industrial cities, and this migration eventually led to an increase in the living standards and social status of African Americans.

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