New York City is starkly different today than it was 50 years ago. It is politically more liberal, and far more racially diverse. Yet one aspect has barely changed: The city’s public schools remain among the most segregated in the nation.
How did we get here? Why have schools remained so segregated for so long? And what can the city’s leaders do to change a fifty-year status quo?
‘A serious split’
On the morning of Feb. 2, 1964, students hunched over signs they would hoist the following day at a massive school boycott by hundreds of thousands of parents and children. They filled in bubble letters that spelled out “Fight Jim Crow, Boycott Schools,” and “Integration Means Better Schools for All.”
The boycott was led by local civil rights activists frustrated with the city’s fitful efforts to integrate schools, a decade after the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education rendered school segregation unconstitutional.
Then, as now, the strongest supporters of integration believed the city’s efforts hewed too closely to a separate-but-equal ideology that the Supreme Court had struck down.