Birmingham, 1963. The image of a police dog viciously attacking a young black protester shocks the nation. The picture, taken in the midst of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous marches, might be the most iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. But few have ever bothered to ask the people in the famous photograph what they think happened that day. It’s more complicated than it looks.
A man named Willie Nash is arrested for the murder of a white man in 1954, in Augusta Georgia. Witnesses place him at the scene. The victim picks him out of the lineup. He confesses. He is headed for the electric chair. Until his young black attorney, Donald L. Hollowell, mounts a defense that rivets black spectators and gives them hope.
Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.
The brilliant idea here is that even the romantic view of Brown v. Board of Education many have isn’t really the victory it might have been. Because the continued racism and segregation of the teachers, things may have become even worse! The Supreme Court should and could have done better and the world would have healed a bit quicker.
Sadly we’ve still got similar problems today and they stretch across many other professions including law enforcement. I wonder what we can do to dramatically improve the teacher diversity problem?
Those who appreciated this episode are likely to appreciate this recent episode of The Daily’s podcast: Racism’s Punishing Reach which has several examples that underline the importance of teachers and provides some studies that just weren’t available at the time of Brown v. Board.
I hope to circle back and create a playlist of some of the more interesting things I’ve heard in the last year on the history of race and racism in the United States. This would certainly fit into that list.
For decades, Americans have believed that the best way to end racial inequality is to end class inequality. But a landmark 30-year study is debunking that logic.
On today’s episode:
• Emily Badger writes about cities and urban policy for The Upshot, The New York Times’s data-driven venture.
• William O. Jawando worked in the Obama administration on My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring initiative for black boys.
• Extensive data shows the punishing reach of racism for black boys.
This story is both very powerful and painfully depressing for me, and yet I know there are many that are still far worse. I hope we can find something in these statistics that can help drastically improve the paying field.
Obituaries in The New York Times have been long dominated by white men. We’re adding the stories of remarkable women like Ida B. Wells, who took on racism in the South.