A CHANCE TO LEARN: The History of Race and Education in the United States by Meyer Weinberg

A CHANCE TO LEARN: The History of Race and Education in the United States

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An intensive, heavily footnooted account of the educational history of specific minorities--blacks, Chicanos, Indian Americans, Puerto Ricans--that documents the practices of exclusion, segregation, token accommodation, and looks closely at the consequences of the 1954 Supreme Court decision and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Not surprisingly, it is a shabby record of injustice and collective humiliation, of extensive legal subterfuge, and of persistence on all sides. Weinberg has marshaled an enormous amount of material on blacks and on the invidious racism that made ignorance compulsory, but considerably less on the other three groups which endured equally vicious forms of oppression. He acknowledges that the systematic exclusion of these minorities from educational institutions was part of a larger policy, a more general denial of social services, and he sees the Civil War as a pivot; thereafter the requirements of federal law were met by open segregation in the South, residential segregation in the North. A history professor and director of the Center for Equal Education, Weinberg concentrates on data--lots of tables on school enrollments and population percentages--as he builds his case, but this is no dry recital of statistics; he charts the efforts of individuals and groups Who bucked the system, quotes from Du Bois and others who were influential in pressing for change, and points out small ironies and local heroics. Nevertheless the book has none of the backstage passions or narrative dazzle of Kluger's Simple Justice which focuses on the activities preceding the Brown decision and dramatizes personality and event with flair. And the histories of the Chicanos, Indian Americans, and Puerto Ricans, parallel to the racist pattern established for blacks, are skimpy in comparison and clearly secondary in this consideration. A highly useful reference nonetheless, essential for the black studies shelf.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press