The third full episode of America On The Fritz is now live! I am particularly happy with this one. Because it again taught and showed me so much. About this great political experiment called the United States of America.
The episode is about education in America. And it starts with zooming in on the Supreme Court case of Brown vs. The Board of Education. This decision in 1954 prohibited separate black and white public schools. For many, it was a promise of a future of equal treatment and equal opportunity for everyone to participate in the American Dream: democracy and meritocracy. I speak about this case and what it meant and means for America with lead NPR education blogger Anya Kamenetz. She helped me understand why that promise was never fulfilled. And why this part of the American Dream is all but dead nevertheless.
One of the many real-life illustrations of the severe impact the decision had on this country is this picture of 6-year old Ruby Bridges.
The photo was taken in 1960. It shows Ruby being escorted to her new school in New Orleans by US Marshals. As one of the actual results of Brown vs. The Board of Education, Ruby was to be the first black girl in a previously all-white school. Resistance against this development -- against a 6-year old girl attending a new school -- was fierce. Ruby was all but welcomed with open arms on her first day. In fact, she was screamed at by an angry mob of white people who threw insults and objetcs at her.
Also, only one teacher was willing to teach her. Parents of white kids kept their offspring at home and away from the school that Ruby was now attending. By herself. For months, she was taught by the only teacher. Only in her second year at her 'new' school was it safe enough to dissolve the US Marshals escort. And did white kids return to school.
There is a movie about all of this now called 'Ruby Bridges'. I have not seen it yet, but I certainly will soon. What a story. What a history. What a country.