Following the Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling, the US Supreme Court legalized the Jim Crow system, and the segregation system was implemented in 1896. In fields such as housing, schooling, and transportation, the Jim Crow segregation scheme sought to separate White Americans and African Americans (Plessy v. Ferguson, n.d). Separate schools were established for Africans and Whites as a result of the system, which not only discriminated against Africans but also prevented Africans from achieving equal status with whites. While the United States Supreme Court was instrumental in establishing and maintaining the Jim Crow scheme, it was also responsible for its demise. This paper looks at African schools after segregation, some of the reasons behind segregation of schools in the US, its results, as well as the desegregation process.
African Schools after Segregation
In the Jim Crow segregation system, Africans were consigned to inferior schools with poor curriculums, unlike their counterparts also they hardly received any funding from the government, and when they did, it was much lower than in white schools (McClinton, 2014). Moreover, these schools had fewer books and other studying equipment, worse buildings as schools and less well-paid teachers. The ramshackle segregated schools stigmatized African students who viewed themselves as not only second-class citizens but also inferior to the White students.
Causes/Reasons for Segregation Laws in the American Schools
One of the primary aims of segregation in American schools was to eliminate any contact between the whites and the Africans people. Concerning this, Whites Americans had the notion that slaves were lesser human beings, hence, did not deserve to be educated in the same schools as Whites (Segregated Housing, Segregated Schools, 2014). Fear of competition in the labor force industry also compelled the White Americans to institute the segregation system, particularly in schools. After the civil war most of white Americans in the US feared that through education the Africans would gain not only meaningful skills but also become literate and as a result, they would compete in the labor market or lose their jobs to Blacks. Whites controlled all the aspects of the African’s schools, hence, they ensured Africans had a poor curriculum and received less or no funding, had fewer books, had worse buildings, as well as less well-paid teachers (Segregated Housing, Segregated Schools, 2014). This ensured they would not acquire high-quality education and as a result, they would not be able to pursue further studies and consequently venture into the business environment as employees or as entrepreneurs.
Segregation of schools was also used as a means to maintaining control over the Africans. Through segregation laws in education, White Americans saw an opportunity to ensure as well as maintain control over the Africans by placing them under monitored conditions that were less oppressive while still retaining them as slaves. Moreover, through segregation laws Whites ensured that Africans slaves were taught only those skills that were critical to agricultural work as well as domestic service; hence, only those that fit the needs of the white society as well as economy (Iron, 2004). Having segregated schools meant ensuring that education, thus beyond the rudiments of figuring and literacy would not be provided or rather wasted on Africans as it would have encouraged them to seek higher education and therefore, they would be unfit to work as slaves (Iron, 2004).
The ideology of white supremacy is another cause of segregation in American school systems in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Lawson, 2010). White supremacy also termed as white supremacism refers to racist ideologies based primarily on the belief of white people being better than and superior to other races or people and hence; should dominate over others. Concerning this, Jim Crow’s laws on segregated schools were based on the ideology of white supremacy, hence, the idea that whites were superior and better than Africans who were considered as mere slaves (Lawson, 2010). Therefore, they believed they could not associate or interact with slaves which resulted in segregation. Furthermore, since they were better than Africans, white Americans saw the need to have better and separate education systems.
Another reason for segregation in the American schools was a reaction to reconstruction. During the reconstruction process, three important constitutional amendments that aimed at granting legal status to the Africans slaves were passed. These included the 13th amendment which abolished slavery, the 15th amendment granting suffrage rights to Africans and the 14th amendment which granted them citizenship (Brown v. Board at Fifty: “With an Even Hand”, n.d). Regardless of these amendments as well as civil acts aimed at enforcing the amendments, from 1873 to 1883 the US. To the White Americans, the process of reconstruction, thus after the civil war posed serious challenges to white supremacy. Moreover, the felt that through education, hence, being educated would aid Africans in fighting for their freedom among other rights granted during the reconstruction period. Therefore, segregation of schools was seen as a way to paralyze the Africans and to counter reconstruction.
During the 19th century, Africans were required to participate in literacy test for them to take part in the voting process. Instituting segregation laws in education ensured that education offered to African was not beneficial and as a result despite studying most students grew up as illiterate. This is because Americans only aided them in acquiring skills that were critical to agricultural work as well as domestic service. In accordance to statistics, due to segregation only 2 out of 10 Africans knew how to read and write, and as a result, upon growing up, most Africans were unable to exercise their suffrage rights.
Results of Segregation in American Schools
Segregation in the 19th century paved the way for modern day segregation. In accordance with new data analysis conducted by the US. Department of Education, an overwhelming number of Blacks as well as Latino students, are currently studying in racially isolated classrooms (Huffington post, 2012). The increasing prevalence of segregation in American schools is most dramatic in the south for the black students. Some of the northern states which include Illinois, New York, and Michigan to a great extent have the most segregated education system, while states such as Nebraska, Kansas, and Washington have the most integrated schools (Huffington post, 2012). Another effect of segregation in schools, is that Africans were unable to acquire meaningful employment, hence, forced to live in poverty; as a result, generational poverty can be traced up to modern day.
Furthermore, the segregated school system was a major contributor in the freedom of Africans. This is because segregation of things such as education promoted civil rights movement to seek freedom and as a result, they were able to acquire their independence. Also, segregation of Africans in the 19th century is to a great extent responsible for modern-day racism discrimination of Blacks in the US. Today, Africans still face racial discrimination in areas such as education and housing as they are often viewed as inferior. Such deep-rooted feelings can be traced back to the early 19th-century segregation.
Desegregation of American Schools
In conclusion, segregation in schools among other areas came under increasing attack after the Second World War whereby, it was deemed as not only unjust but also unconstitutional. During early 20th century, several efforts were established to combat the Jim Crow segregation system; however, they were all unsuccessful. However, after the unanimous decision made in 1954 in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Plessy decision was overturned, and as a result, the US Supreme Court ruled against segregation, hence, promoting integrated schools systems (Genius Media Group, 2017).
In the contemporary world, there exist no segregation rules in America as the US government has over the years promoted equality of all American citizens, particularly in the education system by ensuring schools are integrated. However, even though there are no segregation laws in the contemporary world, to a great extent segregation still prevails as a result of racial discrimination (Orfield, 2010).
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