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"Plessy v. Ferguson Lives,"

by Jonathan Kozol November/December 1997 issue of Poverty & Race

The shame of the nation is the fact that, a full century after Plessy v. Ferguson, our public schools remain both segregated and unequal. A deeper cause of shame is that the influential press in Northern cities has decided to ignore this issue and pretend instead that "innovative" ghetto education ("site-based," "reinvented," bureaucratically "efficient") is a reasonable substitute for any semblance of fair play or equal justice. If the President attempts to skirt this issue, he will leave behind a legacy of moral abdication. The reliance on local property wealth for tax-support of public education and the persistent residential segregation both of cities and their surrounding suburbs guarantee perpetual injustice and must be addressed head-on. John Hope Franklin understands this better than any other scholar I know. The willingness to force this understanding on the public conscience, at whatever political cost to President Clinton, is the formidable challenge that he faces.

Jonathan Kozol is author of Amazing Grace, Death at an Early Age and many other works of social analysis and criticism.
 
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