[COMM-ORG] new book on school desegregation and race

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon Sep 6 09:00:47 CDT 2010

  [ed:  Bill responds to Howard's post.]

From: "Bill Schlesinger" <pvida at whc.net>

Interesting.  I would have said that these are classically conservative 

They saw society as made up of individuals, emphasized a procedural 
right to choose over any specific outcome, and believed government 
should not intervene in individual decisions.

Bill Schlesinger

Project Vida

3607 Rivera Avenue

El Paso, TX 79905

(915) 533-7057 x 207

(915) 533-7158 FAX

pvida at whc.net


On 9/4/2010 11:14 AM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
>    From:
> Howell Baum<hbaum at exch.mail.umd.edu>
> Dear colleagues,
> I am pleased to announce the publication of Brown in Baltimore: School
> Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism. The book tells the history
> of Baltimore school desegregation and argues that school officials’
> liberalism limited their ability to understand race and act effectively
> to end segregation. The analysis has implications for contemporary
> difficulties dealing with race.
> The book’s story is this: A liberal school board voted right after Brown
> to end segregation. However, they chose open enrollment, or freedom of
> choice, as their strategy. The policy made desegregation voluntary, and
> it explicitly disregarded students’ race: all students would be seen as
> raceless individuals free to choose any school in the city. School
> officials said they did not care what racial makeup resulted, so long as
> students had the freedom to choose. Significantly, black leaders urged
> the board to adopt this policy, took credit for the board’s actions, and
> continued to endorse the policy for two decades. No civil rights group
> ever sued the school board to do anything more.
> The analysis interprets school officials’ actions as a good-faith
> expression of their explicit liberalism. They saw society as made up of
> individuals, emphasized a procedural right to choose over any specific
> outcome, and believed government should not intervene in individual
> decisions. Free choice embodied these culturally normal American
> principles. The book argues that the Baltimore desegregation case shows
> the weaknesses of liberalism in grasping race conceptually and in
> developing deep strategies for redressing racial inequities.
> Regards to all,
> Howell Baum
> Below is a description of the book from Cornell University Press and a
> link to the Press:
> http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=5639
> In the first book to present the history of Baltimore school
> desegregation, Howell S. Baum shows how good intentions got stuck on
> what Gunnar Myrdal called the "American Dilemma." Immediately after the
> 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the city's liberal school
> board voted to desegregate and adopted a free choice policy that made
> integration voluntary. Baltimore's school desegregation proceeded
> peacefully, without the resistance or violence that occurred elsewhere.
> However, few whites chose to attend school with blacks, and after a few
> years of modest desegregation, schools resegregated and became
> increasingly segregated. The school board never changed its policy.
> Black leaders had urged the board to adopt free choice and, despite the
> limited desegregation, continued to support the policy and never sued
> the board to do anything else.
> Baum finds that American liberalism is the key to explaining how this
> happened. Myrdal observed that many whites believed in equality in the
> abstract but considered blacks inferior and treated them unequally.
> School officials were classical liberals who saw the world in terms of
> individuals, not races. They adopted a desegregation policy that
> explicitly ignored students' race and asserted that all students were
> equal in freedom to choose schools, while their policy let whites who
> disliked blacks avoid integration. School officials' liberal thinking
> hindered them from understanding or talking about the city's history of
> racial segregation, continuing barriers to desegregation, and realistic
> change strategies. From the classroom to city hall, Baum examines how
> Baltimore's distinct identity as a border city between North and South
> shaped local conversations about the national conflict over race and
> equality. The city's history of wrestling with the legacy of Brown
> reveals Americans' preferred way of dealing with racial issues: not
> talking about race. This avoidance, Baum concludes, allows segregation
> to continue.
> Reviews
> "As a major city just below the Mason-Dixon line, Baltimore won approval
> when it became one of the first cities in the country to comply with the
> Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. Unlike their
> southern neighbors, white officials in Baltimore led the effort that
> resulted in the relatively peaceful desegregation of its public schools.
> Yet, in this wonderful book, Howell S. Baum digs deep into Baltimore’s
> history of school desegregation to uncover how the city’s 'liberalism'
> actually led to a pattern of political and civic abandonment. Baum
> illustrates how 'liberalism' muffled racial conflict and consequently
> weakened the city’s capacity to address issues of race and equality in
> its public schools. Brown in Baltimore is a genuine tour de
> force."—Marion Orr, Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public
> Policy and American Institutions and the Fred Lippitt Professor of
> Public Policy, Political Science and Urban Studies at Brown University,
> author of Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore
> "In this sensitive, readable, and well-researched book, Howell S. Baum
> shows how Baltimore officials tried and failed to integrate the city
> schools. Baltimore City officials honored freedom of choice in the
> abstract, but that notion proved inadequate to produce schools in which
> whites and blacks studied together. Baum writes with particular insight
> about the working-class ethnic whites of East Baltimore, and he shows a
> fundamental understanding of the workings of federal regulatory agencies
> and the peculiar pace at which the courts manage social conflict. The
> result is a wonderful combination of social science and history that
> illuminates one of America's key social concerns."—Edward D. Berkowitz,
> George Washington University, author of Something Happened: A Political
> and Cultural Overview of the Seventies
> "Howell S. Baum carefully traces the long arc of struggle over school
> desegregation in a distinctive American city. With a storyteller's sense
> of narrative and a scholar's attention to detail, he adroitly assays the
> limits of classic liberal solutions to the nation's long-standing
> dilemma of race and sociospatial inequity in urban education."—John L.
> Rury, University of Kansas, author of Education and Social Change:
> Contours in the History of American Schooling
> About the Author
> Howell S. Baum is Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the
> University of Maryland. He is the author most recently of Community
> Action for School Reform and The Organization of Hope: Communities
> Planning Themselves.

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