On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, some of the most important places in American society remain stunningly segregated: Public schools.
PBS’s “Frontline” reports in its latest investigation, “Separate and Unequal,” that the fight to provide equal opportunity for children of all races is far from over. Long after the days of sit-ins and marches, some parents– dissatisfied with low-performing schools — are leading breakaway movements that would amount to more segregation.
And people in liberal New York and California, who may think of segregation as a Southern problem, are in for a shock.
Civil Rights leaders and President Lyndon Johnson fought for passage of the Civil Rights Act to stop rampant discrimination against African-Americans in the South. But an extensive study by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project — which you can read in its entirety here — found that today, the South is actually the least-segregated region for African-American students.
New York is the state with the highest percentage of African-Americans and Latinos attending public schools that are almost entirely African-American and Latino. California, meanwhile, has lowest percentage of African-Americans and second-lowest percentage of Latinos attending majority white schools. On other measures, California is the most segregated state for Latinos. (See charts, below.)
The numbers don’t take into account states with very small numbers of African-Americans and Latinos, like Hawaii and Alaska. But the numbers suggest that no region is in any position to point fingers.
“Frontline: Separate and Unequal,” airs July 15 on PBS. You can check local listings here.
Here are charts from the Civil Rights Project.
Most Segregated Schools for African-American Students as of 2011-12