Black educators were casualty of school integration, new book argues

The landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education decision by the US Supreme Court in 1954 ended “separate but equal” school discrimination and began the integration of American schools. But a new book tells the story of a little-known consequence of the ruling: Black educators losing their jobs.

“There were about 100,000 black principals and teachers who lost their jobs, who were summarily fired, dismissed and demoted. And the blame for their fiery dismissal and demotion was placed on the Brown decision. But in fact, it was white resistance to the Brown decision and not the decision, which was miraculous in a watershed moment for America, “said Leslie T. Fenwick, author of the book Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership.

Courtesy of Harvard Education Press

Leslie T. Fenwick is pictured in this undated photograph.

Fenwick, dean emerita of the school of education and a professor of education policy at Howard University in Washington, DC joined Midday Edition Monday to talk more about the book, and the legacy of the ousting of Black educators which lingers to this day.

“This is a great loss, and it’s a loss that we’ve not recovered from,” Fenwick said. “Prior to Brown, 35% to 50% of the educator workforce was Black. We have no state in 2022 that approaches that percentage.”

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