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Both Sides Now

Both Sides Now: The Story of School Desegregation’s Graduates

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Both Sides Now
    Book Description:

    This is the untold story of a generation that experienced one of the most extraordinary chapters in our nation's history-school desegregation. Many have attempted to define desegregation, which peaked in the late 1970s, as either a success or a failure; surprisingly few have examined the experiences of the students who lived though it. Featuring the voices of blacks, whites, and Latinos who graduated in 1980 from racially diverse schools,Both Sides Nowoffers a powerful firsthand account of how desegregation affected students-during high school and later in life. Their stories, set in a rich social and historical context, underscore the manifold benefits of school desegregation while providing an essential perspective on the current backlash against it.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94248-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Vanessa Siddle Walker

    Given the tenacity of his commentary on double consciousness, mixed schools, and the color line, the capacity of W. E. B. DuBois to introduce the significance of the present work should come as little surprise. Writing during a period when school boards across the South were implementing varied forms of massive desegregation and noting unequivocally that the “United States has a long history of ignoring and breaking the law,” DuBois posed a central, albeit generally ignored, query: “During the 25 or 50 years while the southern South refuses to obey the law, what will happen to Negro children?” (Jones 1978:...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  5. ONE The Class of 1980
    (pp. 1-38)

    On a hot July afternoon, Larry Rubin was sitting on the large wooden deck behind his spacious, newly built suburban home in northern New Jersey.¹ Drinking cool water and wearing a T-shirt from the prominent university he had attended two decades before, Larry watched three of his four sons playing on their backyard jungle gym—a well-equipped structure that rivaled those of many public playgrounds. Their squeals echoed off the tall trees that provided privacy from the nearest neighbors almost an acre away. His wife, Laura, carrying their infant son in a baby sling, pushed one of the older boys...

  6. TWO Six Desegregated High Schools
    (pp. 39-76)

    When this passage was written in the 1960s about the politics of nine American communities undergoing school desegregation, this country was just embarking on what many thought was an effort to dismantle the “institutional complex” of racial segregation.¹ Yet we learned, forty years after Mack’s bookOur Children’s Burdenwas published, not only that segregated educationdependsupon segregated communities but also that desegregated schools and their efforts to bring students together are severely limited when the neighborhoods, churches, businesses, and recreational facilities are pulling them apart. These segregated components of the institutional complex that had sustained segregated schools for...

  7. THREE Racially Mixed Schools in a Separate and Unequal Society
    (pp. 77-114)

    Sitting in her office at a city-run agency in Austin, Texas, Christine Almonte speculated about what she had gained and what she had lost by attending the predominantly white Austin High School instead of the mostly Hispanic Johnston High School more than twenty years ago.¹ Like Larry Rubin in suburban New Jersey, Christine does not have a simple answer about what school desegregation meant to her. But Christine’s assessment of her schooling, unlike Larry’s, embodies the trade-off—and the resulting double consciousness—that many students of color express when talking about their desegregated lives as teenagers. As a Mexican American...

  8. FOUR We’re All the Same—Aren’t We?
    (pp. 115-154)

    Betsy Hagart grew up in the 1960s and 1970s in a middle-class, all-white neighborhood on the east side of Charlotte, North Carolina. As a middleclass white girl, she blended into her community and her nearby elementary and junior high schools, where there were very few black students and no students from backgrounds of real poverty or affluence. Her parents had moved to this part of town so that she and her younger brother could attend East Mecklenburg High School, like her mother, aunts, and uncles before her.

    It came as a surprise to the whole family, therefore, when they learned...

    (pp. 155-198)

    Fourth grade at the Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Austin, Texas, was a difficult year for Harriet “Hattie” Allen. It was 1971, and Hattie, an African American child from East Austin, on the “other side of the highway,” had just transferred into the predominantly white and affluent Lee Elementary School in West Austin. Her teacher, a white woman, tried to label Hattie mentally retarded and have her sent to another school. She was one of only three black students in her class: one of the others was a boy who was academically advanced; the other was a lighter-skinned girl...

  10. SIX Why It Was Worth It
    (pp. 199-235)

    When she was a student at Shaker Heights High School in the late 1970s, Maya Deller was passionate about changing the world. By the early 2000s, when we met her, this fiery, redheaded white woman was a successful lawyer in a Cleveland law firm. She was divorced with three young children and lived in a community not far from Shaker Heights. And like many adults in their early forties, Maya had modified her life goals. But she still wanted make a difference—a desire she had developed as a young child in Brooklyn, New York, and then as an adolescent...

  11. SEVEN More Diverse Than My Current Life
    (pp. 236-263)

    Henry Delane was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, where his family had been part of the black community for generations. Like his father and uncle and cousin before him, Henry went to Topeka High School. But unlike prior generations of Delanes, Henry experienced a Topeka public school system that was considerably more desegregated, both across and within school buildings, even though it still had a long way to go to achieve meaningful integration. In the fall of 1977 Henry entered Topeka High School, which was grades 10–12 at the time, with a sense of pride. He said, “I...

  12. EIGHT But That Was a Different Time
    (pp. 264-291)

    The history of school desegregation in the United States includes many instances of white students never showing up to their newly assigned racially mixed public schools. This was not at all uncommon in the South, where “segregation academies”—private schools for white children—opened just in time to enroll students who were fleeing desegregated schools.

    Yet in Charlotte, North Carolina, the focus of a famous 1971 Supreme Court case that allowed districts to transport students, or “bus” them, to achieve racial balance, relatively few whites fled the public schools. Many attribute this to the role that several affluent and prominent...

  13. NINE The Souls of Desegregated Folk
    (pp. 292-320)

    Sydney Morgan, an African American graduate of Dwight Morrow High School whom we have quoted several times in prior chapters, has seen racism from many sides now. When we spoke to her, more than twenty years after her graduation from Dwight Morrow, she was a lawyer living in a predominantly white suburb of New Jersey, not too far from Englewood or the affluent community where Larry Rubin, her former classmate, lived. On a warm summer evening, Sydney sat on her screened-in porch and considered the many and ongoing forms of discrimination she has experienced both in the Englewood Public Schools...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 321-338)
  15. Index
    (pp. 339-346)