Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Resegregation Is Starting Point for University of Alabama's UnlockED Panel

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Resegregation Is Starting Point for University of Alabama's UnlockED Panel

Article excerpt

Close your eyes.

Imagine a school with a talented and gifted classroom. In your mind, what do the students in that classroom look like?

If you walked by that classroom and everyone in it was black, would you find that odd?

Now think about remedial classes and the students who are suspended. What color are those kids?

"Open your eyes," said ProPublica investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, who led a packed room of people at the University of Alabama's Shelby Hall through the exercise Thursday.

"What it gets down to, is do you really think black kids can learn the same way that white kids can?" she said. "I can't find a school where white kids aren't disproportionately represented in the best classes, and where black kids aren't disproportionately represented in the worst classes.

"It doesn't matter if it's a 70 percent black district like Tuscaloosa, or a 10 percent black district. It doesn't matter if it's in New York or Mississippi. That's saying something. That's saying we actually don't really believe that these kids are equal."

Hannah-Jones was one of five panelists who participated in a forum at UA Thursday called "Confronting Reality: Race in Our Public Schools."

The forum was hosted by UnlockEd, a student organization that's centered around the idea of educational equity for every student regardless of background and socioeconomic status.

Mark Hammontree, director of policy and research for UnlockEd, said it held the forum because the group wanted to inform students about some of these issue they're not aware when it comes to race and segregation in public schools.

"The forum is to discuss the various issues, causes, effects of race and how it functions in our public schools," Hammontree said. "The impetus for it was the article by Nikole Hannah-Jones 'Segregation Now,' which was about resegregation of Tuscaloosa City Schools."

"Segregation Now" was published by ProPublica, a New York City- based nonprofit investigative news organization, on April 16, 2014. The article traces the history of how Tuscaloosa City Schools went from segregation, to desegregation and ultimately to resegregation.

The other panelists were Nirmala Ervelles, a professor of social and cultural studies in education at UA and the mother a daughter who attends a Tuscaloosa City School; Utz McKnight, the chair of the Department of Gender and Race Studies and associate professor of political science at UA; Tuscaloosa City Board of Education Vice Chair Earnestine Tucker; and Mary Burke Givens, a clinical assistant professor in the social and cultural studies program in the College of Education at UA. …

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