Clarence N. Stone
Consider a thought experiment. Suppose in the 1950s that employment, rather than education, had been the opening wedge for bringing an end to racial discrimination and promoting equal rights. Suppose also that the primary responsibility for this push had lain with Congress and the White House, not the Supreme Court. Coalition building across racial lines would have had a much different springboard. The nation’s politics might have evolved in a much different way. Perhaps white flight and the construction of residential boundaries of race and class privilege would have been more tempered, and attachment to place might have proven more durable. Above all, school reform might have taken a different form.
The spotlight on academic performance might even have come earlier if there had been an initial concentration on employment. As it was, the judicial approach to racial change focused on school-enrollment practices as the means to bring about equal rights. And, in this book, Susan E. Clarke, Rodney E. Hero, Mara S. Sidney, Luis R. Fraga, and Bari A. Erlichson show that a body of policy principles and institutional embodiments of those policies were built on the legal foundation of Brown v. Board of Education. By putting separatebut-equal to rest as a constitutional doctrine, the Court made an essential step toward ending second-class citizenship for African Americans and other minorities. Yet the stubborn reality is that the Brown case could declare racial separation to be inherently unequal, but the Supreme Court did not determine how race and education would play out. De jure segregation is gone, but de facto segregation of schools is, nevertheless, a widespread fact.