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Schooling Blacks in Segregationist Thinking

Monday, May 21st, 2012

(NOTE: Last week was the 58th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision of the United States Supreme Court; on May 17, 1954 the High Court unanimously decided that its “separate but equal” doctrine no longer applied in the field of public education. But in the fifty-eight years since the Brown ruling public schools, especially in the urban North, are more racially segregated than ever. So, a debate is raging as to the continued relevance and viability of school integration as a strategy for overcoming educational inequality.

On the occasion of the latest anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education there have been news articles–including features in The New York Times–about segregated urban schools–that reprise the decades-old argument over whether racially segregated schooling harms the psychological development of minority group children–and others–in ways “unlikely ever to be undone”. For our own perspective about the harms of segregation, we have posted below our executive director’s Huffington Post op-ed: )


By Michael Meyers

A public high school in Lancaster, PA is rebelling against the nation’s avowed commitment to color-blindness. It is functionally repealing the civil rights laws by intentionally segregating its black students. The principal of Lancaster’s McCaskey East HS, Bill Jimenez, is actually gloating about separating out his black students and placing them in separate homerooms. The school, furthermore, separates black boys from black girls in these homerooms, a separation that last six minutes each day and 20 minutes twice a month. The school also separates black boys from black girls–and assigns black male teachers to mentor the black boys and black female teachers to do likewise for black girls.

The justification for this scheme of formal race segregation is school authorities’ perverse reading of “the data” that they insist suggests that academic achievement–for blacks–depends on the provision of strong (black) mentors. This color-coded and single-gender mentoring and instruction is sheer lunacy, of course, but it comes at a time many school officials are wringing their hands and shrugging their shoulders in frustration over what to do to “save” black boys and (to a lesser extent) black girls from persistently low academic achievement and high dropout rates. The educational authorities in Lancaster have proudly concluded that reintroducing separate schooling–in the guise of mentoring minority boys and girls–will be a benefit that blacks actually want and, therefore, won’t object to as illegal. Indeed, the mainline civil rights watchdogs haven’t yet yelped with outrage. Even federal civil rights enforcement agencies have been slow and reticent to challenge such segregation on the theory that the segregation is desired by the black students and their black adult “mentors.” These adults’ reasoning is simple if not simplistic–the civil rights laws were passed to foster blacks’ equality and ergo said laws should not be read or applied in ways that block what many blacks now demand–a reversion to segregated, all-black classes, if not one-race schools.

This governmental compromise with “voluntary” segregation has been a long time in the making. Dating back to at least the 1990s federal education authorities were openly searching for ways to approve all-black, all-male programs in public schools. President Bush’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education, Michael Williams, for instance, in 1992, told a Heritage Foundation audience that he supported racially-identifiable educational arrangements despite federal civil rights laws that, he knew, prohibited them and which at the time also disfavored single-sex public schooling and classrooms. Williams’ Education Department and the prior and subsequent Assistant Secretaries there flat out refused to decide a complaint that we brought challenging New York City’s first single-sex public school since the adoption of Title IX in 1972. It is still pending 15 years later. Eventually, the US Education Department itself led the effort to change Title IX regulations to allow for single-sex programs and one-gender public schools, a retreat from integrated education that was heralded by urban educators and parents alike as panaceas to the educational malaise impacting minority group children. The rationale was plain–separate black boys from black girls, and vice versa, and teach the boys to “man up.” At the East Harlem public school for girls the students were fed tea and crumpets, true to the spirit of educating girls differently from the boys. And, a decade later, the “Black Male Initiative” of the City University of New York–the target of another complaint we brought that the Feds have refused to decide much less declare illegal–also vouched for “the data” about the importance of black male role models for black boys. At its pilot program for black males at the mostly black Medgar Evers College, the black president of the college taught a separate class for black men. He, too, bragged about the separate class and the value of his black male bonding with the black male students, at least until we lodged our civil rights complaint.

Now that identical “collegiate” and “data” driven rationale is offered as the compelling reason to separate black boys from their other peers, and from black girls, in Lancaster’s high school. Indeed, as we had warned, single-sex school programs in urban settings laid the groundwork for a full-scale retreat from color-blindness, too, inasmuch as there exists stubborn societal prejudices and stereotypes that black boys are oversexed and boys and girls in the same classrooms are ergo distractions to each gender’s learning. The other stereotype of these children, both black boys and black girls, is that they are “culturally deprived” and “at risk.” These children, we are told, and are to assume, all come from “broken homes” and communities where men are disproportionately imprisoned, and, therefore, they have been deprived of strong black male role models. That is the gravamen of the school as surrogate parent, and for the provision of black men in the classrooms to teach black male students how to behave “like men” and to instruct black girls how to behave like “proud black women.” It is a racial and sexist drum that is played loudly and effectively in the black community and especially in many a black church, which reflexively if not religiously separates men and women in programs and instruction of their faith.

But our public schools are not black churches, and they are not the proper vehicles for racial or gender indoctrination. Black kids don’t learn English or math or science or a foreign language differently from others because of their skin color. They are, however, saddled with and their education is stunted and impacted by the stereotypes about them that adults bring into the schools. “The Black Male Initiative” of CUNY actually supposes racial differences in learning styles and the like. And no doubt high school principal Jimenez was schooled by the thinking and speech that Assistant Secretary of Education Williams offered some ten years ago in which he said: “There could very well be a benefit [for black boys]… to being isolated for a temporary period of time, or for special purposes.” Williams then added “There is something in the relationship between a black man and a black kid that could very well work to the benefit of those youngsters.” Williams could have cared less about his duty as a lawyer to faithfully execute the federal civil rights laws, including the US Supreme Court declaration that when it comes to intentional racial segregation in our schools–in any official form or however beneficent its guise–separate schooling on the basis of students’ race is inherently unequal. But well-meaning and block-headed educators have never bought that separate is unequal dicta; they insist that a little segregation can and will be helpful to black students and other underachievers “of color” such as “Hispanics” but not Asians. Asian students are differently stereotyped; all of them are widely regarded as the model, smart minority. Except on college campuses Asians too are segregated into special orientation and affinity groupings and dorms for “students of color.” There is no escaping racial idiocy in vast sectors of our mosaic nation.

Hence, this impulse for separating blacks from whites, and Hispanics from whites and Asians, and minorities from the so-called “majority” students–peers of similar age and qualifications–for no other reason than skin color has become commonplace, endemic and fashionable. if you need remedial education, and you’re black, there will be a separate program created for you. A program for black males. Another program for black girls. And the school authorities will insist on color-coding your teachers because good teachers are not enough; they want black children to have black role models. The “data,” they say, prove racial steering necessary and appropriate. Color-blindness as a national and legal standard is obliterated on the mantle of political correctness and racial expediency.

This resurgence of segregationist thinking in educational policy is as ironic as it is intense. Some black and white champions of “equality” both endorse black segregation as the best chance for overcoming blacks’ sense of group inferiority. Surely, these throwback voices to a bygone era don’t understand the lesson that legal segregation taught and passed on to successive generations of post-racial Americans–namely, there is never equality whenever kids can be placed into separate classrooms and be treated differently for services and teaching based solely on assumptions about their skin color. Our laws for four decades have commanded absolutely equality before the law regardless of one’s race because we discovered that separating children from others of their age and qualifications based on their race instilled in children of all colors moral confusion about democracy and individual merit. There has been no ambiguity about that in the law since the mid-1960s, only studied indifference to fulfilling Martin L. King, Jr.’s dream through recanting on promises of equal treatment. Shockingly, this new era of legal segregation has come into existence because the previous victims of racial segregation have been persuaded that being behind the eight ball of segregation is good for their kids. How horrible and cruel a hoax is such racial idiocy.

All our children, of every color, need to be saved from the damaging effects on their personality of segregationist practices, and from the policies and attitudes that stereotype, defame, and scapegoat isolate human beings “because” of their skin color. If local and Federal education officials succeed with their tactics of obfuscation and skirting of basic egalitarian principles embedded in our civil rights laws then they will have found the formula for reversing the public policy that once set our nation on the course away from a dual society. Racial segregation is the disease, and the symptoms include the itch to keep placing our children into color-coded boxes and judging their merits or lack of individual success on their disadvantaged backgrounds, broken homes, and on their “race” rather than on ineffective teaching and bad individual study and library habits. This disease of racial idiocy afflicts adults as well as children, who carry the badge of group inferiority or group entitlement and blame their “race” for their ghettoization and marginalization. This mindset negatively affects the hearts and minds of school children in ways unlikely ever to be undone by mentors of their racial caste.

The author is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former assistant national director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Read the original article at

The Shameful Resegregation of New York City Schools

Monday, May 21st, 2012

(NOTE: In light of recent articles spotlighting segregation in the press, we’re posting articles written by the Executive Director since long before.)


By Michael Meyers

Today marks 55 years since the Supreme Court outlawed intentionally racially segregated public schools, declaring that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Back then, blacks welcomed the news that we would never again have to “prove” that segregation harms black children in ways unlikely ever to be undone – as demonstrated persuasively by my mentor Kenneth Clark‘s breakthrough experiments using black and white dolls.

All that is yesterday’s headline. Today liberals of all skin colors cheer all-black schools and separate classes for boys and girls as the means to the end of raising these children’s “self-esteem” in their “race” (race is a term I don’t believe in) and gender.

This has given rise to a new era of acceptable Balkanization of our public schools, as other minority groups – Hispanics, Asians, Arabs and Jews – rush to organize schools around their group’s culture or language or ethnic identity.

It is tragic that in New York City, the nation’s epicenter of ethnic commingling and cross-pollination, such schools have proliferated on Mayor Bloomberg‘s watch.

Examples abound:

Opportunity Charter School is 92% black and 8% Hispanic. Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem is 92% black and 8% Hispanic; Luis Munoz Marin Bilingual School is 92% Hispanic and 7% black. Harlem Day Charter School is 94% black and 6% Hispanic. Harriet Tubman Charter School is 94% black and 6% Hispanic.

Some of these schools instruct their students well. But doesn’t it trouble anyone that they are happily, practically by design, segregated along racial or ethnic lines?

Nobody at the federal level seems to care – not even Barack Obama, who never would have been born if not for racial integration. The Clinton and Bush administrations both bent over backward to legally allow public schools and classes serving just one race or gender, beginning in 1996 with the Young Women’s Leadership School in East Harlem. The feds at best looked the other way and at worst encourage the new “separate but equal” regime.

Apparently, they think that blacks and whites and others have changed their minds about integration. As a political reality, maybe they’re right; many Americans rationalize that plenty of public schools are already “majority” minority – so, why not just allow blacks their own schools, and the same for others?

Here’s one “why not”: because Kenneth Clark’s research, which in 1954 helped sway the Supreme Court by demonstrating the damage that segregation does to the development of children – even when separate is “equal” – hasn’t changed. He proved that egos and individuality are bruised, deeply, when children are taught to exaggerate their ethnic and racial identities and to undervalue others’. Yes, this is true even if, for instance, students in an all-black school are incessantly taught to be proud of themselves. Positive or negative, stereotyping is pernicious.

And often, the ingrained prejudice isn’t so innocuous. Some of the new segregated schools actually claim that black boys and girls learn differently from one another, and differently from all other ethnic groups. Ditto for Hispanics. That’s the way the overachievement of some groups, and the underachievement of others, is explained.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein‘s eyes gleam every time he assures me that children are learning in these segregated classrooms. His boss, Bloomberg, agrees.

While they deserve some credit for working relentlessly to close the achievement gap between children of different backgrounds, they’re failing to see the forest for the trees. As a central part of their education, kids’ horizons must be broadened beyond their families’ ethnic heritages and cultural traditions. Our public schools’ core mission is to extirpate, not to reinforce, prejudice, parochialism and nativism.

When educators exclaim that separatist education is for the kids’ own good – or that neighborhoods are segregated and we must accept that schools will be, too – what they’re really saying is that we do not have the brain power, or the guts, to stamp out ethnic clustering. Fifty-five years after Brown, this is the cowardly new consensus.

Meyers is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition.

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Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin Misstates History

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Dr. Doris Kearns Goodwin appeared on the March 25th airing of NBC TV’S  “Meet The Press” where she compared the Trayvon Martin slaying to the carefully planned 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi.   Below is the letter Executive Director Michael Meyers sent to Goodwin and “Meet the Press” host David Gregory:


Dr. Doris Kearns Goodwin



30 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, New York 10112


Dear Doris Kearns Goodwin:

I listened to you on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday—and I was surprised, to say the least, by your misstatement of history as you compared the killing of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi circa 1955 with the recent killing of 17 year-oldTrayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

I was also startled by your saying there were four men tried and acquitted for the murder of Emmett Till.

According to the transcript of the “Meet the Press” panel discussion, you said in part,

“Three months later after the [Emmet Till suspects’] trial, where the four guys were acquitted within an hour, it produced outrage.”

Then, you added,

“The good thing that’s happening now, compared to then, then Mississippi acted defensively against the North. Now you’ve got at least the people in Florida, in Sanford, they’re marching” And, you associated the killing of Trayvon Martin with the “stand your ground” law in Florida, saying—“You’ve got the governor [of Florida] saying, ‘Maybe I’ll look at a revision of the laws.’ We have come somewhere.”

Such overblown rhetoric and misstatements of historic facts might be excused coming from any of the other unknowledgeablepanelists—such as the NAACP’s Benjamin Jealous—none of whom disagreed with your historical rendition—but coming from a respected historian I find your “facts” sloppy and biased. In your misstating this important history and pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement —and your comparing the killing of young Trayvon Martin to the overtly racist lynching of Emmet Till in 1955 Mississippi—shocks and misinforms.

First, what is your evidence for stating that four men were tried and acquitted for the murder of Emmett Till? Everything I have read about the murder trial of Till’s kidnappers and killers involved two men—not four; they were Roy Bryant, the husband of the white woman who Emmett Till whistled at, and the other, J.W. Milam, a relative of Bryant’s.

Secondly, the trial of the two men was a State of Mississippi prosecution. The State of Mississippi brought the prosecution and upon learning of the murder of Emmett Till child many Mississippians, including whites—at least initially—were shocked and appalled by the murder of the black child. Even the governor of Mississippi back then, who had dismissed the broad condemnation of the killing as a racially- motivated lynching—endemic to Southern racist culture—nevertheless called the killing of Emmett Till “murder.”

How can you factually compare the lynching of Till—by kidnap and brutality, which included the gouging out of one of Till’s eyes and the bashing in of his face and a shot into the child’s head by his assailants—to the troubling and disputed circumstances of young Trayvon Martin’s death in his encounter or confrontation with George Zimmerman—the Sanford, Florida neighborhood watch captain, who, admits to having followed and reportedly fought with Trayvon Martin? We still don’t have all the facts. And yesterday you did not have all the facts; and the facts known to you as of yesterday you either misstated or rhetorically exaggerated.

Zimmerman is not white. He is Hispanic. He does not fit the profile, according to his black friends, of “the

white racist killer,” even assuming the facts and motives are as you have imputed to him—“facts” which are neither self-evident nor undisputed.  Do you really think this of the killing of Trayvon Martin as a 21st century version of racially-motivated Southern violence—on the par of an Emmett Till abduction and murder? And, if you do, on the basis of what evidence do you support such a harsh accusation?

The implications of your statements and suppositions are indeed serious and troubling. Again, I understand the emotional clamor of the activists and the many “civil rights” and race advocates who are often loose with the facts and fast with their calls for indictments and “justice”—and their rush to judgment. But what is your excuse as a historian for coming to such hard and fast conclusions about what happened in Sanford, Florida without a scintilla of evidence as to the racial motive behind the killing of Trayvon Martin? His death is tragic and alarming, and could and should have been avoided had George Martin not acted precipitously. But injecting race so casually into this situation—comparing this incident to old-style Southern white racism is appalling. You apparently have no hard evidence that this death and killing was either racially-motivated or murder.


I await your response.


With best wishes,


Sincerely yours,


Michael Meyers

Executive Director


Cc: David Gregory, NBC News

Michael Meyers Responds to ACLU’s Siding with Race Hucksters

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The following is a comment posted by Executive Director Michael Meyers on the ACLU website in response to their transcript of Laura W. Murphy’s speech to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network National Convention.  Laura W. Murphy is the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office Director.

Laura W. Murphy Speaks Out As – American *Civil* Liberties Union

Apr 16th, 2012 at 2:52pm*

What EVIDENCE–rather than conjecture and personal anecdotes of fear and concerns from your Laura Murphy (who frets about her own son’s safety
in a predominantly white neighborhood)–does the ACLU have for concluding that the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death was racially-motivated or an
act of “racial-profiling”? Was the ACLU or Laura Murphy there at the time of the altercation between George Zimmerman, a Hispanic, and Trayvon Martin,
an African American youth? Why the rush to judgment before the trial of Zimmerman? The ACLU used to stand for due process. But it hasn’t questioned
the state prosecutor’s end run around a grand jury–and it hasn’t urged Americans to wait for the trial before coming to hard and fast conclusions
about the facts and circumstances of this child’s death.

Here, the ACLU stands curiously with race hucksters and “civil rights” activists who demand arrests, and conviction, and the ACLU uses this tragedy as support
for new federal laws that will address “racial profiling”, citing this incident as “proof” or as an example that racial profiling is endemic. But using personal anecdotes
and supposition, and citing “facts” neither in evidence nor contested in a court of law is too easy and sloppy a leap to the conclusion that this killing was as an act of
racial-profiling. This stirring of passions and prejudices is on the ACLU’s part sheer racial paranoia and hyperbole and contributes to a climate of racial divisiveness
and pre-trial publicity that undermines due process rights and respect for the rule of law.

A defendant is entitled to the legal presumption of innocence–but the ACLU doesn’t or won’t say that. Instead, ACLU officials claim that the Trayvon Martin
tragedy is “racial profiling,” the kind of “racial profiling” that warrants federal anti-racial profiling legislation. Missing in its analysis is how, if at all,
a federal law aimed at police officers who engage in racial profiling relates to the conduct of a civilian neighborhood watchman who confronts
a civilian–even assuming that the civilian patrol racially-profiles. On this, on just about every level, the ACLU is way off the mark.

Michael Meyers, executive director, New York Civil Rights Coalition

Defending Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Artistic Expression on “Hannity” (VIDEO)

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Michael Meyers appears on “Hannity” to defend Nicki Minaj’s right of artistic expression following her controversial Catholic-themed performance at the Grammys.

Mayor Gets C–For “Clueless” on Civil Rights

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

NYCRC has issued a report highly critical of Mayor Bloomberg’s record to date on race relations and civil rights. Click on “Reports” above to download the full text.

Study Finds College Officials Encourage Separatism On Campus

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

NYCRC releases report entitled, “The Stigma of Inclusion: Racial Paternalism/Separatism in Higher Education.” Click below for press release and summary, and click on “Reports” (above) to download full report. hearts.