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Jim Crow's children : the broken promise of the Brown decision
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  Library Journal Review

For this work, yet another excellent study by Irons (political science, Univ. of California, San Diego; A People's History of the Supreme Court), the moral is the message in the title. Irons does celebrate the nearly revolutionary work of the Warren Court in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling of May 17, 1954. However, he also convincingly cautions us that if Brown wrought a revolution, it produced a partial one at best, for now we find ourselves in what he sees as the throes of resegregation. Other recent works have explored the legacy of Brown and its progeny. But Irons, a sage veteran of Supreme Court analysis, including its disappointing rulings concerning Japanese internment during World War II, vividly illustrates the promise of the past and the perils of the present in his cogent commentary concerning a revolution unfulfilled. This engaging, insightful work covers the 150-year struggle to realize the ideal of equality in public education and demonstrates that the struggle continues. Highly recommended.-Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Univ., Nampa, ID (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

The famous 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education decision, outlawing segregation in public schools, was thought to be the turning point in the modern civil rights era. Irons, a political science professor and award-winning author of A People's History of the Supreme Court (1999), takes the reader on an enlightening journey through the preconditions of segregation from slavery through the Civil War on into the so-called Jim Crow era, when the South sought to re-impose its cultural dominance on racial issues. Irons examines the Supreme Court ruling and its cultural context--including jurist personalities and interests leading up to and subsequent to the Brown decision. But he is particularly acute at analyzing the consequences of the decision, including the broken promises of equality of opportunity through education. Since the early 1990s, the Court's ruling has clearly sanctioned re-segregation, allowing for schools where segregation stems from causes beyond legal remedy, such as white flight. In later chapters, Irons notes the interconnection of poverty and race, indicating not only the unfulfilled promises of the Court now but also into the future. Irons brilliantly exposes the gaping divide between our ideals, laws, and social realities. --Vernon Ford

  Kirkus Review

Avowed integrationist Irons (Political Science/UC San Diego; A People's History of the Supreme Court, not reviewed) powerfully summarizes Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and argues compellingly that subsequent court cases have effected resegregation and the resurrection of Jim Crow. The author grieves for what he views as the abandonment of the ideals of equal educational opportunity so eloquently advanced in 1954 by Thurgood Marshall and so painfully sought by children, parents, teachers, and even a few courageous politicians. Irons begins his damning indictment of retreat and racism with a swift history of the "education" of slaves (whites sometimes punished those uppity blacks who dared to write by cutting off the offending digits). He proceeds with a case-by-case examination of the Supreme Court's handling of issues relating to racially segregated schools. For a brief time, Irons sees the Court endeavoring to guarantee to black Americans what the Constitution requires. Although he admires the political skills of Chief Justice Earl Warren (who achieved a 9-0 consensus among his colleagues on Brown), he regrets the concession to Southerners Warren was forced to accept, which permitted the phrase "all deliberate speed" to become a speed-bump of alpine proportions on the road to social progress. Irons reminds us that significant achievements like Brown and the integration of Little Rock schools were accompanied by substantial white resistance and violence, which went on for years, nowhere more brutally than in Boston's anti-busing riots. Two portions of the story are particularly wrenching and depressing: the Supreme Court's turn to the right courtesy of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush I, resulting in subsequent abatements of Brown; and the author's recent visits to the five schools whose cases were clustered as Brown. In all of them, Irons found de facto segregation, and no better evidence exists for the failures of today's educational policy than his poignant interviews with current students. A book of sorrows-and of surpassing importance.
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court sounded the death knell for school segregation with its decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. So goes conventional wisdom. In fact, writes Peter Irons, today many of our schools are even more segregated than they were on the day when Brown was decided. In this groundbreaking legal history, Irons explores the 150-year struggle against Jim Crow education, showing how the great victory over segregation was won, then lost again. The author of several award-winning books, Irons ranges from 1849 to the present as he describes a battle that has stretched across most of American history. He skillfully weaves a gripping legal drama out of the stories of brave, now-forgotten men and women, of luminaries such as Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren, and explores the impact of the Brown decision on the communities actually involved in the case. Perceptive, fascinating, and devastating, Jim Crow's Childrenis a major contribution to the national debate over race and its implications for the American educational system.
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