25 years after Brown v. Board of Education, Chicago's schools are still struggling with the issue of integration.
Chicago, Illinois: 25 Years After Brown v. Board of Education
NORMA QUARLES: Chicago, like many other northern cities, has resisted integration despite the Brown decision. Today, the federal government calls Chicago schools the most segregated in the country. Two thirds of all elementary school children attend all black, all white, or all Hispanic schools. As black and Hispanic populations increased over the years, many whites fled their ethnic neighborhoods, leaving too few whites to integrate the schools easily. The few attempts to integrate schools even partially resulted in white protests. Fifteen years ago, the school board commissioned an integration plan, but it ignored the recommendations. The plan’s chief author was sociologist Dr. Philip Hauser.
Dr. PHILIP HAUSER: The school board was part of the white resistance, just as City Hall has been part of the white resistance. The impact of the Brown decision has been about zero. Chicago might just as well have been on another planet.
QUARLES: The federal government cites numerous examples of segregation. Four hundred and fifty students assigned to this overcrowded black school, are being bused four miles to another black overcrowded school. They could be bused to three underused white schools less than two miles away. School officials here deny any intentional segregation. Instead, they point with pride to the city’s small-scale voluntary integration plan begun last fall.
Dr. JOSEPH HANNON: In spite of the fact that the plan may not be what everybody wants it to be, we’ve reduced a whole host of confrontations, hostilities, and I do feel that the worst thing that can occur is to put this city into any kind of a racial conflict.
QUARLES: Hannon’s own deputy superintendent believes a voluntary plan isn’t enough.
Dr. MANFORD BYRD: I think there has to be some mandatory aspects to a plan that will get the optimum amount of integration in the Chicago schools.
QUARLES: Even proponents of integration predict the dwindling white population may make integration impossibility in Chicago. Norma Quarles, NBC News, Chicago.
On October 22, 1963, seven of Arydell Spinks' 12 children stayed home from school. They were not sick, and they were not skipping school for the fun of it. Rather, they were protesting segregation in Chicago's public schools. They were part of a boycott called "Freedom Day."