Brown in Baltimore School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism

ISBN-10: 0801476526
ISBN-13: 9780801476525
Edition: 2010
Authors: Howell S. Baum
List price: $26.95 Buy it from $15.83
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $26.95
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 4/8/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 296
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

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.

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Liberalism, Race, and the American Dilemma
An American Border City
A Long Black Campaign for Equality
Opening the Racial Door Slightly
Desegregation by Free Choice
Modest Change
Parents' Protest against Continuing Segregation
Growing Integrationism and the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Federal Intervention
Federal Officials, the School Board, and Parents Negotiate
The City's Court Victory
Conclusion: Baltimore School Desegregation, Liberalism, and Race
Appendix
Notes
Index

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