(Memphis) Many are reflecting on the equality of schools in our area and around the country on a special anniversary. Saturday marks 60 years since Brown vs. Board of education, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation in schools is unconstitutional.
When a black father won for the fight for his little girl to be educated the same as young white children, it changed the country forever. But 60 years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, both black and white leaders in Memphis and Shelby County say, “We are more segregated now than we've ever been. It's less about race and more about socioeconomics,” expressed Shelby County School Board Char David Pickler.
School systems in Memphis and Shelby County have been through a lot of changes in just a few years. Memphis surrendered its charter. Memphis and Shelby County schools merged and municipal school districts are in the process of forming; but its charter schools popping up by the dozens that has Pickler concerned.
“All those efforts to privatize are clearly an effort to desegregate schools and I think that's an abomination,” said Pickler.
Pickler adds that tax payer dollars should pump into poverty stricken schools.
Former Memphis City School’s board member, Pastor Kenneth Whalum agrees that the state of inequality in schools is troubling. But it’s not just a black and white issue.
“Blacks are in a position of authority and our children are still not being educated .It’s not the white man's fault,” expressed Whalum.
“So what do we so now?” asked WREG’s Elise Preston.
That's a good question. We can't have another brown vs board of education, been there done that. Here’s what we got to, do black people got to take responsibility of their children,” replied Whalum.
Pickler says everyone needs to come together for Mid-South children to have the best chance of succeeding.
“When I talk about public education being a civil right, I mean it. Every child should have the opportunity for a great education regardless of their race ethnicity or zip code,” said Pickler.
*Bonus Interview Footage with Judge D'Army Bailey and Former Tennessee State Representative Johnnie Turner*