Video: Elise C. Boddie on "The Struggle for the Soul of Public Education"

Event Recap

Friday, March 6, 2020

Elise C. Boddie, a Professor of Law, Henry Rutgers Professor, and Judge Robert L. Carter Scholar at Rutgers Law School, presents a talk titled "Struggling for the Soul of Public Education" at UC Berkeley on March 6, 2020. 

In her talk, drawing on lessons from the frontlines of the battle to integrate public schools in New Jersey--which has perhaps the best state law in the country for integration-- Professor Boddie discusses the peculiar challenges of northern integration and the demand it creates for multiple solutions that move beyond a strict focus on court-centered remedies.

Transcript:

Denise. H:
Okay. Good afternoon. I'm Denise Herd. I'm a professor in the school of public health. I'm also the associate director of the Othering & Belonging Institute. And I'm really very happy to welcome all of you here today. I'm so glad that you're able to make it to hear the talk and be a part of the event where we're featuring our special guests, professor Elise Boddie. She'll be talking about struggling for the soul of public education and we'll also have remarks by Itoco Garcia, who is a superintendent of Sausalito Marin City Schools is coming. Hope I got that name right.

Itoco. G:

You did. Good job.

Denise. H:
Thank you. So this event as part of the Othering and Belonging Institutes research to impact series, and in this series we focus on important conversations with scholars and researchers who are discussing topics related to increasing inclusiveness and justice in our society. So given the focus of our institute on human rights and justice, we'd like to begin today's event by acknowledging the indigenous people who made our presence at this university possible. So I'm going to do a land acknowledgement.

Denise. H:
We recognize that UC Berkeley sits on the territory of Huichin, the ancestral and unseated land of the Chochenyo Ohlone, the successors of the historic and sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Ohlone people. We recognize that every member of the Berkeley community has and continues to benefit from the use and occupation of this land since the institution's founding in 1868. Consistent with our values of community and diversity, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the university's relationship to native peoples. By offering this land acknowledgement, we affirm indigenous sovereignty and we'll work to hold the University of California, Berkeley more accountable to the needs of American Indian and indigenous peoples.

Denise. H:
In addition, I'd also like to thank the staff at the Othering & Belonging Institute, including Takiyah Franklin and Marc and Megan back there who are recording for us as well as the staff here at the Matrix. So this year the Othering & Belonging researched impact series is focusing on commemorating the 400th anniversary of slavery, of the arrival of African slaves to the American colonies that now form the contemporary US and so some of you might've been with us in August when we began this academic year with a full day symposium on the legacy of slavery. And this semester we're continuing those conversations with our faculty clusters including with today's cluster on educational inequalities, but also economic disparities, religious diversity challenges to democracy, disability studies, inclusion of LBTQ populations and health inequities.

Denise. H:
And just in terms of a commercial, next week we will be having scholar Jenifer Barclay, who will be talking about disability and slavery. And then in April we're going to have a symposium, a panel symposium on reparations. And in May we will have Riley Snorton who will be talking about gender neutral pronouns in the 19th century. So we hope you'll be able to come out and enjoy those with us as well.

Denise. H:
So today's talk is cosponsored by the faculty cluster on race diversity and educational policy, which is chaired by professor Janelle Scott. So I'm actually going to quote something that Professor Scott said about the focus of that cluster, which is highly relevant to our event today. And what she said is, "In light of the acute racial, linguistic and socioeconomic segregation experienced by so many of our public school districts and local schools, the education policy cluster is focused on policies, pedagogies, and practices that increase democratic governance integration and more robust and targeted resources. We are also focused on the retreat from civil rights enforcement and how states County offices of education and local school districts might ramp up their oversight of racial disproportionality in school discipline, special education and funding."

Denise. H:
And of course those topics are very, very relevant to today's talk. And we're just delighted that Professor Boddie is with us and we'll be providing much needed illumination on these issues. And so we're very thrilled to have her here today. So now I'd like to welcome chair and professor Janelle Scott to the podium who will take over the rest of the program and introduce our speakers. Thank you so much Janelle.

Janelle Scott:
Hi, good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming on a Friday. Hey, you're here. It's awesome. And Denise, thank you again and special thanks Takiyah Franklin for pulling this all together. I should say that Professor Christopher Edley was meant to be here today and he sends his regrets. He's not able to join us but really feels terrible about missing it and wanted to make sure we conveyed his deep regrets to everyone who came. But I can't think of a better scholar to help us think about the role that education has played historically in the struggle to resist and overcome race-based injustice in the United States, even more powerfully however, Professor Elise Boddie is leading by her brilliant example in New Jersey of how we might do engaged and rigorous work using the most powerful analytical tools from law and social science to engage with communities and to help public education live up to its democratic potential. I'm honored to introduce her.

Janelle Scott:
So let me tell you about all the fabulous things that come with Professor Boddie. She is professor of law, the Henry Rutgers professor and Judge Robert L. Carter scholar at Rutgers university. She's also the founder and executive director of the Inclusion project, which works to advance racial inclusion and equity using law, social science and community engagement and media. She's an award-winning legal scholar. As I said, teachers at Rutgers Law School in New York where she teaches constitutional law, civil rights state and local government law, before joining Rutgers, she was the director of litigation at the NAACP legal defense and education fund where she supervised LDFs national legal program, its team of attorneys and core aspects of its operations.

Janelle Scott:
Earlier in her career, she litigated cases in the areas of affirmative action, employment, school desegregation and economic justice and headed LDFs education group. Following a clerkship with judge Robert Carter in the Southern district of New York, she became the first person to hold the Fred Frank NAACP LDF fellowship and was a litigation associate in the New York office of Fred Frank before joining LDF as a staff attorney, she currently sits on the Board of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the National Board of the American Constitution Society. She's a founding trustee of the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive schools and is a leader in the effort to integrate new Jersey's public schools.

Janelle Scott:
She graduated from Harvard Law School with honors from Yale College and holds a master of public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She will be followed by Dr Itoco Garcia, and I want to thank Dr. Garcia for agreeing to fill in for Professor Edley at the last minute. I'm thrilled that Dr. Garcia will offer some response comments after Professor Boddie speaks. Dr. Garcia is the superintendent of the Sausalito Marin City School District and co-executive director of HipHop Scholastics. He has been a transformative professional educator, twice Berkeley alum. He received his doctorate from the graduate school of education. We're so proud, but he's been an educator for 20 years in schools all over the Bay area, including Oakland and Hayward, has been an educational consultant in districts in California and Nevada. And just a really a leader in efforts to advance equity in education.

Janelle Scott:
In addition to his expertise, he is overseeing the implementation of one of the first desegregation orders in California in the last 50 years in his school district. He did not cause the segregation, he's trying to solve the segregation to be clear. And so it will be lovely to have someone who is really in real-time engaging with the issues that Professor Boddie's going to be speaking about with us today. So with that, I turn it over with joy to Professor Boddie, thank you for joining us.

Elise Boddie:
So first of all, I just want to thank you all for being here, and also I want to extend my thanks to the Othering & Belonging Institute, to Professor Janelle Scott for organizing this and Takiyah Franklin who did yeoman's work, yeoperson's work to get me out here and to Itoco for stepping in at the last moment, and I look forward to our conversation. So I've called my talk the Struggle for the Soul of Public Education, where did the clicker go? Here we go. And before I tell you what I mean by that, just a point of personal privilege. So this is very much a personal conversation for me. I actually started my school career attending an integrated school. I was part of a school desegregation program in Los Angeles. I did not know that at the time. I rode a bus, I found everyone rode a bus. There was nothing special about riding a bus. U don't remember anything about the bus ride, but I remember my school.

Elise Boddie:
And I loved my school. I was there from kindergarten through the second grade. And then we moved to Texas, my father was in the military, so we moved around a bit. I'm the one right here in the red dress, because I look the same, I'm sure. All right. So what do I mean by the Soul of Public Education? I define the Soul of Public Education around the struggle to achieve a pluralistic, democratic society in which people from all backgrounds share power and engage on an equal footing. And what do I mean by a democratic society? Here I'm drawing on the work of Elizabeth Anderson who talks about a democratic society being comprised of three elements.

Elise Boddie:
One is membership. Democracy involves universal and equal citizenship of all permanent members of society who live under a state's jurisdiction. The mode of government, of course, democracy is government by the people carried out by discussion among equals. And then the culture. Democracy consists in the free cooperative interaction of citizens from all walks of life on terms of equality in civil society.

Elise Boddie:
Anderson further argues that these three elements are essential to achieving a just government that is based on the consent of the governed and she argues that we cannot achieve consent as a body under segregation because segregation undermines our ability to discuss matters of public interest together as equals. The problem with segregation is that it divides us into distinct non-interacting groups, which means that we are not attuned to the interests of the whole public in which each is regarded as an equal to the others.

Elise Boddie:
Public schools are critical to this project. Public schools help us to create a democratic society that reflects and fosters this kind of public engagement and interaction. We undermine the possibilities of political equality, when public schools are segregated. Charles Sumner, how many of you know who Charles Sumner is? Okay, you got to know who Charles Sumner is, Charles Sumner, who would eventually become a leader of the radical Republicans in the United States Senate argued in 1849 before the Massachusetts Supreme court in a case called Roberts vs city of Boston, which challenged segregation in Boston public schools. And he argued that when public schools are segregated, they become schools of prejudice and uncharitableness, that white children who are taught in segregated schools, Sumner said, are nursed in the sentiments of caste.

Elise Boddie:
Their characters are debased and they become less fit for the duties of citizenship. Anderson further writes that political equality requires more than mere legal equality. Let me say that again. Political equality requires more than mere legal equality. It is a matter of cultivating the habits and sentiments of association on terms of equality. It's a matter of cultivating the habits and sentiments of association on terms of equality, the practices of equality, not just having the formal legal rights to equality.

Elise Boddie:
In 1958, Thurgood Marshall, who was then head of the NAACP legal defense fund and would later become a Supreme court justice argued the case of Cooper versus Aaron before the United States Supreme court. The issue in Cooper versus Aaron was procedural and highly technical, but the thrust of the issue was whether a federal court order approving a desegregation plan at central high school in Little Rock, Arkansas would be suspended for two and a half years. Many of you, some of you may know the history that led to that case. Black students were known as the Little Rock Nine, nine black students were set to enter Central high school on September 2nd, 1957.

Elise Boddie:
White mobs descended upon them. The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus dispatched units of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent them from entering the public school. Eventually, president Eisenhower dispatched the federal troops to protect them and the students went to school that year, but it was, as you might imagine, an extraordinarily difficult year. The following year, the Little Rock school board wanted to delay further implementation of the desegregation order because the state of Arkansas was continuing to engage in a campaign of massive resistance, was fomenting violence and instability at the school and tried to block the use of federal troops.

Elise Boddie:
And the school board argued that allowing the school year to proceed under these conditions would compromise public education. Marshall argued that the court should allow desegregation to proceed. And I'm just now realizing that I forgot to cue the clip of his argument, but I will describe it to you. So Marshall talks about democracy as being tough. It's hard. Democracy is hard. He says it's not just a matter of coming together and voting. Democracy is fundamentally rooted in public education. And he talks about the interaction between public education and democracy, says education is not just reading, writing and arithmetic. It's the teaching of citizenship to be able to learn to live together.

Elise Boddie:
But democracy cannot function. The voices of the people cannot be heard if people build walls around themselves and close themselves off to the world around them. And in the clip, which you have not heard, but if you get a chance, you should listen to it. He says, "I'm not worried about the black children. They have struggled with democracy long enough." And he doesn't explain what he means by that. But I interpret him to mean that the black children, the Little Rock Nine, were engaging in the project that Elizabeth Anderson described of trying to build a shared community, a community that shares not only resources, but power and opportunity that seeks to cultivate the habits and sentiments of association on terms of equality. What are we teaching white children when we allow them to opt out of that project given this country's history, we are schooling them to return to Charles Sumner in the habits of prejudice and uncharitableness and to nurse the sentiments of caste, which debases their characters.

Elise Boddie:
So what does this mean in practical terms? This project requires that we preserve and protect the publicness in public education by creating and maintaining schools that are constituted by people who are different. And I don't just mean different by race, I mean different along all axes of background by class and ethnicity and religion from all walks of life. And that we create public schools that embrace difference and inclusion. And we know that this is good for us. We have decades of research that point to the educational and social emotional benefits for all children. I'm so glad Rutger Johnson is here. Where's Rutger, where's Rutger, if your ears are always burning, it's because I'm always citing your book.

Elise Boddie:
Children are the dream and children are the dream. Professor Johnson shows that black children born between 1945 and 1970 who experienced school desegregation at higher levels of educational and occupational attainment, higher earnings and better health outcomes, a reduced chance of interacting with the criminal justice system. And we have other researchers too, Rosalind Mickelson, Amy Stuart Wells, Erica Frankenberg, Denise Siegel Holly who have all documented the benefits of integration. So how do we get there?

Elise Boddie:
I think a major barrier to integration is that we fundamentally conceive of public education not as a common good, but as a commodity that is bought and paid for. We are not participants in a collective project of democracy and public belonging. We are consumers focused on maximizing opportunity for our child. I call this the problem of other people's children. We don't care about other people's children. We just want to know how is this going to affect my child?

Elise Boddie:
How many of you have heard about or familiar with the stories of Kelly Williams-Bolar, Tanya McDowell, anyone? Mr Scott, you're nodding your head. So these are two women who made national headlines when they enrolled their children outside of their zoned public school district. So Ms. Williams-Bolar is a black woman who lived in a segregated low-income community in Akron, Ohio with lower performing public schools, the school she chose for her child was wealthy and predominantly white.

Elise Boddie:
Now apparently this was relatively for common, zone jumping as they call it. But they found Ms. Williams-Bolar. They found that her child was enrolled from outside the district and when they discovered it, they demanded that she pay $30,000 for using its services as a non tax payer. When she refused, she was arrested, prosecuted for resident's fraud, and sentenced to 10 days in prison. She had to pay $800 in restitution and perform 80 hours of community service in addition to covering the cost of the prosecution.

Elise Boddie:
Around the same time, another black woman, Tanya McDowell, who was living in a van in Bridgeport, Connecticut, enrolled her six-year-old son in a predominantly white wealthy school in neighboring Norwalk, Connecticut. McDowell also was prosecuted and convicted of felony, larceny. Know what larceny is?

Speaker 5:
Stealing property.

Elise Boddie:
Stealing. She was stealing public education. I mean, just wrap your minds around that for a moment. Theft of public education. And she asked, "When did it become a crime to seek a better education for your child?" Noliwe Rooks in her book Cutting School also discusses other cases where black people had been prosecuted for stealing public education. So what does all this mean in practical terms? As Professor Scott mentioned, I've been involved in a struggle and it is a struggle, I will say to integrate public schools in New Jersey. And I want to share with you some of the experiences and try to relate them to the framework I've set out.

Elise Boddie:
But I want to start by telling you a true story. So in, in 2004 I was speaking at an event in Wilmington, Delaware to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education. Some of you may know that Brown was a consolidation of five different cases. Gebhart vs Belton was the school desegregation case out of Delaware. And at the time I was heading the education group at LDF as Professor Scott mentioned. And I was on this panel and I was talking about school segregation and how the south was resegregating because of a series of bad US Supreme court decisions. That's a whole other conversation.

Elise Boddie:
And these decisions made it much easier to release schools, school districts that had been operating under federal judicial supervision, these cases, these decisions out of the Supreme court made it easier for them to be released from federal judicial oversight. So when I was introduced to the audience, they mentioned that I live in Montclair, New Jersey, in Montclair at that time was really more of a bedroom community. I was working in New York city. I traveled a lot for work, as did my husband. We just didn't really spend that much time in New Jersey. So after the program, this gentleman comes up to me and I learned that he is the president of the state chapter of the National NAACP. A footnote, NAACP and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Totally separate organizations. That's another story.

Elise Boddie:
And he says to me, "They say you're from Montclair." And he said, "Well, I'm from Montclair." And I'm thinking, "Who the hell is she? I've never heard of you before in my life." We're actually good friends now, but we always laugh about this. And he said, "You're in Delaware talking about school segregation." He said, "We have a lot of school segregation in New Jersey. How about that? What are you doing?" And candidly I had no idea what he was talking about. I had no idea. And the problem was I wasn't paying close enough attention. Is there anyone here from New Jersey other than Angelica? J. Rose there, okay. So, there's an interesting thing that happens when you drive through neighborhoods in New Jersey, you can drive for five miles and pass through four different towns.

Elise Boddie:
Newark borders a town called South Orange. And when you drive from Newark into South orange, it's intensely urban and then in a blink of an eye, it's all green space. It's parks and trees and you think what happened? What just happened in that moment. That border in New Jersey is everything. That border between towns and school districts is like the Maginot line. It is heavily fortified and it is heavily policed. In Montclair, and this happens all over New Jersey and I'm sure it happens around the country too. But if you have a child enrolled in the public school, someone every year comes knocking at your door and they want to verify that your child lives with you and not someone else's child who is using a false address. Because in New Jersey as in other parts of the country you are for the most part required to go to school where you live.

Elise Boddie:
And I call them the residents police and there is a for-profit industry that helps towns police their borders by identifying students who use false addresses and then kicks them out. They conduct these investigations, they follow people, they drive around and they look at whose house they're coming out of and so forth. So...

Speaker 6:
Just like the Repo Man.

Elise Boddie:
What's that?

Speaker 6:
Just like the Repo Man.

Elise Boddie:
Yeah, repossessing stolen public education. So I want to talk a little bit about the specific lessons from the school integration in New Jersey. So New Jersey, we have terrific state constitutional law. I mean it is amazing. I think it is the best state constitutional law in the country, but it's honored in the breach. We rarely enforce it. I'm not going to go through all of this, but we have a state constitutional provision that specifically bar segregation in public schools. And by the way, it bars De Facto segregation, meaning we're not, you don't have to show intent to discriminate. You don't have to show intentional discrimination. Segregation, regardless of its cause is unconstitutional. There's a whole body of law from the 1960s that establishes that principle. We also have a statute from 1881 that bars segregation.

Elise Boddie:
There's this terrific... I'm not going to read through this. This is Booker versus Board of Education. I love this case because it sets out a very broad vision of public education. It talks about social emotional abilities. This is from 1965. It talks about citizenship, not the bad way that we use it now. Little c citizenship. It talks about participatory democracy and the disadvantages of homogeneity. I mean, they are way ahead of their time, but this is a really powerful case.

Elise Boddie:
So New Jersey, New Jersey is the sixth most segregated state in the country. For black students it is the seventh most segregated for LatinX students. And I love telling this to people in New Jersey. It is more segregated than the states of the former Confederacy. Gary Orfield from UCLA who's done terrific work around school segregation and unmasking the persistence of school segregation, put out this report specifically on New Jersey which set the stage for the lawsuit I'm going to talk to you about.

Elise Boddie:
We have very high fragmentation of public education in New Jersey, 1.3 million students, almost 2,600 schools, 591 school districts. So Houston, which I grew up... After LA I moved to Houston. So Houston is larger than New Jersey. It serves 200,000 students. So it's fewer students. It has one school district in 200 schools. And Houston, I don't know how many of you are familiar with Houston, but Houston you can just, no zoning in Houston it's just way spread out. The complete antithesis of New Jersey. The 591 school districts means that there's a lot of opportunity to segregate. Lots of opportunity.

Elise Boddie:
Okay so why isn't the law enforced in New Jersey? People don't know the history of segregation outside the South, especially redlining. Richard Rothstein, I thank God for Richard Rothstein. I cite Richard Rothstein all the time. There is a wonderful video called segregated by design. I show it to my students, when I used to talk to them about the history of redlining, they're like, "We've never heard that before. I don't believe you." It shows you what kind of credibility I have. And I show them the video, segregated by design and they're blown away. On Northern segregation, there are lots of tricks, lots of tricks in Northern segregation, gerrymandering of the attendance boundaries, optional attendance zones. So white students, it's convenient for white students. You can go to the school that's your zone to or not, selective transfer policies, building schools in predominantly white communities or in predominantly black communities rather than on the border. Overcrowding black schools under enrolling white schools, all the tricks.

Elise Boddie:
So there are some interesting historical explanations for this. I think this will be familiar maybe to some of you. First of all, there was, within the black community and I think this is still true. There are reservations around integration, right? They said, "We'll deal with anti-blackness through other means," we're going to talk about black economic and cultural development, self-help, not protest. There's a really fascinating piece by Robert Crane from his 1960 book, The Politics of School Desegregation that talked about how in Newark the machine system, the system of patronage really undercut the ability of civil rights organizations to do their work because they could co-opt black leadership by giving them jobs. And jobs are real, people need to eat.

Elise Boddie:
Black support for segregation, a real concern about making sure that black children are taught by black teachers. That is ongoing. The lost institutional knowledge. We know from the firing of 38,000 black teachers during desegregation after brown. Others, a study that was cited I saw about higher graduation rates and segregated versus integrated schools from the 1920s. Wow, this thing is really fast. It's like... Okay so the more specific lessons, why isn't the law enforced, the great constitutional law? We're not the South. We don't need this. We're different. Some of you may have heard this saying... In the South village it'll get close but not too high. And in the North village you get high but not too close. And that gets it right there.

Elise Boddie:
Segregation is invisible, with the exception of the example that I gave you. You drive across and you're like, what just happened? It's performed by borders. Segregation is performed by the borders. In other words, it's not this, you can't pin our segregation on a specific identifiable actor. This is 1963 Montgomery, hosing the black children protesting over segregation. There is also very significant fear of loss of political and administrative control over schools. Newark, which just one back local control after decades of state control. It's hard thinking about what are the administrative systems that would grow up around integration.

Elise Boddie:
This is a big one too, the framing for school desegregation, which has traditionally singularly focused on black students. And I hear this all the time. Integration, why is... Black people say, yeah, integration is just about having black children sit next to white children to get a good education. Why do we need white children to get a good education? And what I tell them is that first of all, that was not the theory of Brown. The theory of Brown was that green follows white. There was an attempt to enforce funding, making sure that there was equitable funding across segregated school systems in the South.

Elise Boddie:
But they said it was like emptying a swimming pool with an eyedropper because you had to keep relitigating every year over and over across all these different districts. So they said green follows white. If you put the black kids in the white schools, the resources will be allocated in a way that will promote opportunity. Again, problematic framing and language, this is from Brown versus Board of Education, to separate black children from others of similar age because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority. I hate that language. I don't like that language. And when we filed our complaint in the case challenging school segregation, I said, "We're not putting that language, we're not putting that in there."

Elise Boddie:
Insufficient attention to harms to White and Asian students. I put and Asian in brackets. This is... I won't get into it now, but it's a tricky issue because Asian students are more integrated than all other groups, but they still have pockets of segregation. I mean, it's a very complex issue. This is the brief of social scientists from Brown versus Board of Education. What's very important about this brief, and you never hear about this in the case itself, but there was a brief that was filed by the social scientists, which talked about the harms to white children, of segregation. And I won't read it, the whole thing. But the key point being that white children who learned the prejudices of our society are taught to gain personal status in an unrealistic and non-adaptive way. White children who are segregated don't have to compete against the black and brown children.

Elise Boddie:
And so what that means is you have all this talent in black and brown communities and white children just assume that that talent is not there and that means that they gain their status. They have unrealistic expectations about their abilities relative to the abilities of children of color. I hear this a lot. We don't care about integration, just give us the funding. Just give us the funding. And again, Rutger cite your work a lot. You need the funding, you need the high quality preschool and you need integration. And the problem with funding and first of all funding is crucially, crucially, crucially important. I don't want to underplay that. The challenge of funding is that you're still dependent on the political will of the state legislative body. In New Jersey our schools, we have great, great funding, a great funding case, state constitutional law from the New Jersey Supreme court.

Elise Boddie:
The challenges that you depend on the political bodies to give you the funding. And so you end up relitigating funding time and time again. But this is very common. And then Abbott, Abbott is the state funding case. And this is just language indicating that the state Supreme court was aware that we may not be able to erase the challenges of school segregation because of the concentration of high poverty, black and brown children in high poverty schools. But it is important and it will make a difference.

Elise Boddie:
Specific lessons, memory, another challenge to the trauma, school desegregation. I talked about this a little bit, the loss of black teachers and institutional knowledge, tracking, excessive discipline and tokenism. So the way in which school desegregation was carried out, it created some trauma among black students, desegregation versus equitable integration. So quickly when I do presentations in New Jersey there was this one woman who would kind of follow me around to the presentations and she would always challenge me afterwards and she would say, "I don't like integration because we lost black teachers." And literally all of the things that I just said about the narrative. And at one point I had an opportunity to do a presentation and it was a half-day presentation and I said, "I'm not talking about desegregation." Desegregation is a legal term. It means the removal of the legal barrier to integration.

Elise Boddie:
I'm talking about equitable integration and I spelled out what I meant. That's not there. Nope. I spelled out what I meant and I'll get to that in just a second. And after... I spelled it out after I explained it, she came up to me and she said, "Okay, now I'm with you." Now I understand. So we filed this case, May 17th. Some of you may know why that's significant. It was a 64th anniversary of Brown versus Board of Education. I should say I worked with... There's a story behind this, I won't tell the whole story, but a state Supreme court justice who had retired from the court approached me and he said, we met at a conference earlier and he said, "You want to challenge, you want to file a suit against the state of New Jersey around school segregation?" And I said, "Yeah." And I didn't even really think about what all of that would mean, but I convinced him to wait until the anniversary of Brown to file it.

Elise Boddie:
We don't want an educational opportunity to depend on zip code then don't assign students to schools by zip code. I always hear this, "We don't want opportunity to depend on zip code." Well then create a different assignment system. These are the prayers ruled for relief. I can go through that in a Q&A, but basically we're trying to limit residency requirements. That's the basic premise. These are just some of the statistics behind segregation. By the way, we're challenging segregation by race and poverty, by race and poverty. And Sean Reardon has this very important study that he released in September of 2019 that talks about sort of the challenges of high poverty schools and you have to deal with it through race because black children in particular are so highly segregated by poverty.

Elise Boddie:
So these are just some of the statistics, very high concentrations of black and LatinX students in high poverty schools. I use the term non white, I don't like that term but it's the term that we have for this. Challenges designing, how do you design school districts that default to or incentivize integration? We're looking at the possibility for countywide school districts, interdistrict choice, magnet schools not mandatory most likely. And there are questions about should we do it all at once or more incremental? I don't know the answers here. That's why we have question marks.

Elise Boddie:
Other issue, it's not just designing the system of student enrollment, it's about how do you integrate within schools and avoid replicating patterns of white supremacy within the school. This is what I was talking about when I explained it to Debra. Green versus New Kent County. You've got to address school segregation as a system. That's just have to be eliminated, root and branch. This is still good law. This applies in the Southern context. You've got to integrate facility, staff, faculty/teaching staff, extracurricular activities, transportation, student assignment, the quality of the educational environment. Can't just be the courts, you have to involve the state legislature. People hate it when I say that but it's... People in New Jersey hate it when I say that. But that's true.

Elise Boddie:
How do we foster and sustain inclusive practices that create a system of belonging within schools? How do we create structures? This is a huge one. How do we create structures that facilitate active and ongoing consultation with and participation by affected communities of color? This is huge. It requires a lot of resources, which we don't have at the moment. What are the barriers to building awareness, interest and participation, funding, capacity, diffuse educational advocacy and organizing across the state? The infrastructure around educational advocacy is very limited. I'm almost done Janelle, am I good? Okay. How have we tried to address this in New Jersey?

Elise Boddie:
So this is my second job. I actually, I do have a full-time job, but this one occupies a lot of times. So the key to doing this because we don't have, I think, a fully formed educational infrastructure for doing advocacy and not even clear where people would line up on the issue of integration for the reasons that I've identified. We've got to partner with different people who are doing different kinds of advocacy that intersect with the benefits of integration, that intersect with integration. So multi-partner multi-issue. So what we're trying to do is build an ecosystem of educational advocacy in New Jersey that, I mean, fortunately New Jersey is relatively small and it's dense but it's challenging.

Elise Boddie:
So we have, Professor Scott mentioned the New Jersey coalition for diverse and inclusive schools. That's a board that we form to kind of help facilitate this litigation. By the way, I am not litigating the case. We have private counsel who are doing that, but this coalition, this board is comprised of faith leaders, civic and business leaders, civil rights leaders, educators, education scholars, respective community leaders and yes lawyers. And I put them at the end, salvation and social justice is a group of faith leaders who were organizing around different social justice issues. We've been very helpful in this. Students, oh my gosh, students are so key. That's also another conversation.

Elise Boddie:
The United Black Agenda, which has kind of formed, it's a group of kind of civil rights, civic-minded folks who are organizing around housing, criminal justice, voting, economic empowerment. Education advocate, statewide and local, education researchers of the Cornwall Center at Rutgers. Dr. Charles Payne, who was from the University of Chicago who's amazing. The Bloustein public policy school have been very helpful. Superintendents, present and past, who focus on equity. There is a superintendent's group who are focused on equity and I've drawn them into the fold, state legislators, antipoverty advocates and I've received significant support. I just have to give a shout out to chancellor Nancy Cantor at Rutgers university who supported this work.

Elise Boddie:
And again, we're trying to kind of connect all of these different issues to sort of build support. And the thing that I found is that Adam Grant, who I can't remember the name of his book, but he talks about sort of how you condition people to embrace ideas that are outside the box. And one of the things that he talks about is the importance of repetition. People become, as they become more familiar with the idea, they learn to accept it a little bit more. So some of this is just sort of engaging with people, engaging with people from different sort of communities and advocacy groups to kind of keep talking about the possibilities of integration and then get their ideas and their feedback. You got to listen to people, right? You can't just sort of... It's not a one-way conversation.

Elise Boddie:
So these are some of the issues, funding, a lot of intentionality around engaging with Newark because they're a very important constituent in this work. Community schools, special needs, English language learners, charter school reform, reparations, which is kind of bubbling around in New Jersey, curricular reform. There's a state law called Amistad, which talks about, which requires actually the intentional teaching of African American history in a robust way which is also not really sort of honored in the breach. Lost of black teacher is very significant issue in New Jersey. Antipoverty, voting, criminal justice reform, teachers colleges. We need to really work on our teacher's colleges or some things that are, tricky things happening in New Jersey around that.

Elise Boddie:
So this is the last thing. Some recent successes. So we're working with the Cornwall Center, I helped to host a community conversations workshop where we brought folks in from Newark and we talked about policies that assist and sustain strong urban schools. One of the questions that I have is in a context of school integration, where you give people the opportunity to attend schools outside of their district, what happens to the urban system? We can't make the problems worse. So how do we strengthen the urban schools at the same time that we're providing opportunities for integration? I also published or had published an open letter to the people of New Jersey, one of the major New Jersey publications, newspapers, it was signed by 70 organizations and individuals and organizations, I just wanted to emphasize that. Okay. That was a mistake.

Elise Boddie:
And then a few weeks ago I hosted a conference of nearly 300 high school students from 20 schools, six districts and four counties. And they talked about school integration and they divided it up and they were all organized by students from different schools sitting around these, in circles and kind of debating integration and our school segregation and how to fix it. And it was a day long thing and it was mad. That was amazing. I'm done. All right. Thank you so much.

Janelle Scott:
Let me just thank professor Boddie again. You can see why we were so excited to have her join us. Do what we need to do? Yesterday announcement was going out on Twitter about this exciting talk, Gary Orfield responded and said about Elise that she doesn't just write about it. She fights for it. That was so sweet. And so I'd like to turn it over to Dr. Garcia who was actually fighting for it right now, just a short drive away from where we are and he's just going to give about five minutes of reaction and then we'll have time for question and response.

Itoco. G:
So let me start by saying that thank you for the opportunity. It's a great honor. I don't know how the heck I'm going to stick to five minutes, but I'll try. This is an emotional roller coaster. This whole ride I've been on is an emotional roller coaster listening to you talk. Some of you might've heard me laugh from the front row. It's not because I think anything's funny, but it's because of the irony of which what was presented here matches my day-to-day lived experience. And sometimes you got to laugh instead of crying. And so what I'm not going to do is stand up here and break down and cry in front of y'all right now. However it's personal for me. I grew up in and around Marin city and so many of the things that you offered, although we are in the same zip code and we're only 500 kids, there's so many things that you set up structurally that are in place in our community. There's a literal border between Sausalito and Marin city is the 101 freeway.

Itoco. G:
You couldn't have a more effective border, in the late seventies, in our current context, the word wall is used loosely. But there was a fence around Marin city and it was the kind of fence that is not designed to keep people out, it was pointed inwards. When I grew up, Marin city was 96% black and we got pulled over. I was one of the few people that could cross that border that didn't grow up in Marin city, but you would get pulled over coming and going by the Marin County Sheriff's office. They pull you over on the way in to see who you were and they pull you over on the way out to see if you had bought any dope or anything else that you could find. It was the height of the crack epidemic. It was the height of mass incarceration and all of those things have had a tremendous impact on school desegregation and segregation and integration.

Itoco. G:
And what we're dealing with today is laid over a decades long history. There's a intersection with Thurgood Marshall. Marin city exists much like East Palo Alto and North Richmond and West Oakland because of the great migration. It was a shipyard and people came, everybody I know, parents and grandparents came from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, they'd come from nowhere else. Much like the rest of the Bay. And so there's a history of redlining.

Itoco. G:
Once the public housing projects were built after the shipyard was decommissioned, these housing covenants still exist in Marin County if you buy a house, you're no longer legally enforceable but as long as their house was built before, whenever these housing covenants exist, it's there. It says no negroes, no Mexicans, no orientals, these are living legal documents. As a kid I experienced incredible tracking in our high school. I had two classes with my homeboys, World Industry as a freshman and government and econ as a senior. Other than that, I was in a track that had a P next to it that said college prep. And the rest of my boys weren't. So this is a very long standing issue and as an educator that has worked predominantly in Oakland and Hayward, it's not specific to Sausalito and Marin city. We got flatlands in hill schools in Oakland. We got Fairview in Cherryland and Hayward.

Itoco. G:
And schools are very segregated due to these kinds of histories. And so the idea of intersectional advocacy is really, I think, incredibly important. So these are some other kinds of questions that I have. And I thought you did a really great job bringing up this idea of the tension between the history of black excellence in segregated schools and integration. And one of the first questions that I wrote down was when you were talking about democracy being carried out by a discussion of equals and the idea of hard to engage black and brown families is I really connected that to the idea of internalized oppression. I find our folks are not showing up because they're like, "Yo, this has been happening for 65 years and it is not going to change by having yet another community meeting or having yet another conversation."

Itoco. G:
So I'm hoping you might elaborate a little bit on that idea or how... And I have some offerings too, but how we can really build and overcome that. The anti-blackness that we see. I have reams of comments from community surveys that we've done. They're not startling. They're not surprising, but they're alive and well. The idea of Northern segregation... That was five minutes already. So other questions building on the idea of... Where my phone's at? I don't know. Building on the idea of, I'll put it in my back pocket, which I never do. Building on the idea of Gerald Wizner who I had the great honor of actually taking a class from in this building when it was old Barrows. And his idea of post Indian warriors of survivants and fast forwarding into Botina Well's idea of we want to do more than survive. How do we integrate and do more than survive? Because right now we're integrating and maybe surviving if we're lucky.

Itoco. G:
The things that you brought up around fragmentation, there's 17 school districts and we're in for 20,000 kids. I mean, that's just real. This is a community has probably 98% self identified liberal Democrats. Progressive. Here people are really espouse openly racist things except for a couple of dudes on a podcast, it's called the United States of Anxiety. Check it out. And so I wanted to ask you like how do we also really pay attention to harms to White and Asian students and the fear of loss of political and administrative control? Because these are two of the strongest themes that I see coming up currently in our community and attached to that progressive liberal ideology is just this, we are not racist refrain.

Itoco. G:
And so I think, there's some strategies around education on de facto segregation. I'd like to hear kind of more of your thoughts about that, ironic in terms of litigation. We are relitigating funding constantly. And so I guess those are my biggest questions without beginning to ramble on for a long period of time.

Janelle Scott:
Thank you Dr. Garcia for those important comments. So I'd love to open it up now, Elise, I don't know if you want to sit in the hot chair, do you want to stand? How do you want to engage with us? And if you all have to leave early, just again, thank you for coming out.

Elise Boddie:
But I heard internalized depression. Oh my gosh, now I'm blanking. How to survive-

Itoco. G:
How do we integrate and do more than survive?

Elise Boddie:
How do we integrate and do more than survive.

Itoco. G:
How do we overcome the harms to White and Asian students and how do we proactively address this idea about political power and governance in my community the term is structure, governance structure.

Elise Boddie:
Yeah. I don't have the magic answer. I think a lot of it is... So internalized oppression is... I mean in Newark there is and I use Newark because it's where I teach, but also it's a very strong and powerful and important city. And there's so much exhaustion around education reform and they're like, "Here we go again. You didn't get it right the first time and second time and third time. So why should we do this?" And so there's also a question of trust that is very much, is at the center of all of this. I don't... And I think the global comment that I have in response to all of these wonderful and super critical and important questions is that the process of getting to a different place is iterative. It doesn't happen all at once. And I dare to say it is really and truly an intergenerational struggle. It's not, I think in New Jersey it could take a decade or longer even to get to a better place.

Elise Boddie:
And so some of this is being strategic about how you engage with people in communities, how you find opportunities to move the needle, sometimes and I do, I study a lot about sort of how change comes about. And it's very interesting when you think about kind of events. Sometimes there's an event that gives you the opportunity to kind of step in and say, "Hey, we can get to a better place." In terms of the structures of political power in governance, we need to have a conversation around that because honestly, in New Jersey it's going to be a real challenge. Those 591 school districts.

Elise Boddie:
But interestingly enough, what I have seen is, there is now a... When I first started this work about four years ago, the question of countywide school districts seemed to be a nonstarter. And then all of a sudden the Senate president who was very powerful, state Senate president started talking about countywide school districts as a way to save money. I thought, "Oh." And Republican legislators in New Jersey who are severely outnumbered, started talking about county wide school district, that's trying to gain some currency. So again, some of this is, as I said before in the Adam Grant book, I think it's called Originals.

Elise Boddie:
How do you move ideas? One is the idea of familiarity, sort of repetition, that helps. In terms of sort of liberal white progressive folks, honestly, they're the hardest group. Honestly, I found they're the hardest group because it's like I'm not racist. I'm with you on all of this, but that is part of a conversation, I'll tell you, one of the most challenging conversations I had was with a group of self identify liberal white folks who were like, "We don't need this. We're good." And I'm like, "Okay." So how do you have that conversation. So short answer, I don't have any of the answers, but you just have to have the conversation and that having the conversation in and of itself is really important than trying to move the needle within that. So should I just call... Yeah. Yes.

Speaker 8:
I have so many things I could come in at. Just a quick one about the white people because I happen to be one is when I note in a Corona virus situation, prior to that we have antivaxxers. Most of the antivaxxers are white people. So there's a certain strange privilege that goes on with white people. I have a specific question because you glanced over a slide in your 2018 I think proposal in New Jersey about charter schools. And how does charter schools affect movement for integration both in terms of minority communities who want to get part of the prize by improving themselves? Maybe just reflects someone like myself. There's so many things I could say here. I as a white person took the reverse advantage of living in a very colored black neighborhood to send my half racial children to Miramonte High School in Orinda.

Speaker 8:
So I took advantage of being the white card, so it was good to go that way. The problem with things like charter schools and magnet schools and church and things, I have one Asian story Mencius mother, the famous philosopher is supposed to have changed areas for her son Mencius, three times to get better education. There's a constant... The point is as a parent, you're always trying to get the best for your kids and this kind of clouds the integration problem. But getting back to my charter school thing, I'd like-

Elise Boddie:
Yeah. I'm so glad you mentioned that. And I'm thankful to Dr. Scott for her work because it's influenced me in this space. So first of all, I did not mention this, which is bad on my part. Charters are part of this lawsuit because charters are driving segregation in New Jersey. And I did some of the... The number of charters has just exploded in the state. And the tricky thing is, and again, I go back to Newark, it's such a challenging conversation because, and you've kind of hit on it, black parents in particular. And it's just like, I just want to create opportunities for my children. And there's some really wonderful things happening in the Newark public school system. I want to be clear about that.

Elise Boddie:
But there is, you understand the level of anxiety. They want to have the same choice and opportunity that everyone else has. And so I don't fault individual parents. What my point is that we have to create a system that incentivizes people to choose systems of integration. And we're not opposed to charters. We're not for charters. We're just saying, whatever you do for the public, the traditional public school system because charters are considered public, they're their own districts. Whatever you do for the traditional public schools, you have to do for charters because the lesson around integration is if you create the opportunity for flight, people will flee. So you have to kind of close that off. And around doing the best for your kid, like that's, yeah, doing the best for your kid.

Elise Boddie:
So I think that the best for kids is integration. And I've seen him, so my son... We're in Montclair. I mentioned we have integration in the district. It is not always easy, I'll tell you that. But they struggle with it and it's the struggle that matters. It is the struggle that matters. And so I think when we put kids in like a lock box, I don't think that's good for them. I think kids should have to learn how to work with people who are different. Yeah, Rutger, Professor Johnson.

Johnson:
I've always asked you this, every time we see each other, I often come back to you with this question, but I'm just saying, can you give me an update? And the question I always ask you is, can you tell us the north stars, the models integration that we can take the best lessons that I've been able to sustain in the glacier, in the more contemporary period? And what are the main kind of beacons of hope where we see major changes happening now that we can look to both from a maybe superintendent leadership standpoint but also the ability to build a multiracial, a multiethnic, socioeconomic coalition, generational coalition around this value of integration.

Elise Boddie:
I'd forgotten that, that's what you always asked me. So I'm glad you reminded me of that because when we see each other, we have lots of different conversations. This might sound a little crazy, but I feel like it's easier to have conversations around race in Alabama than it is in New Jersey and it's not to say that it's easy and I say Alabama, that's just, just saying Alabama is sort of a stand in for places where they've had the grapple with integration throughout, for generations because that generational history is really important. Erica Frankenberg always reminds me that she went to high school in Alabama and that's in part why she does the work that she does.

Elise Boddie:
So one of the slides that I put up there, green versus New Kent County, when the Supreme court finally said, enough of this resistance, you're going to integrate root and branch. And that means all the different things that I talked about. Faculty, transportation, you have to integrate the whole system. And again, it goes back to the charter point because if you create pockets of racial isolation in a student population and in the faculty population or an extracurricular's, it creates this dynamic where people sort of flee either into the pocket or out of the pocket.

Elise Boddie:
And I remember when I was litigating and we had a case where they were, the school district was pressing for unitary status, meaning that they wanted to come out from federal judicial oversight. And one of the questions was around extracurricular activities. And the community wanted a black cheerleader. That was important in the culture of football and Alabama, like that. So it's like these little interstitial granular things that become so significant in this struggle... I don't have... It's hard for me to point to like the best where they get it all right because it's ongoing. That's the thing, the biggest... The most common misperception is that you can do this and then you're done. People don't want to hear, you have to constantly refresh and re-examine and study and monitor like it is a process, but if you can find... Sometimes you can find some equilibrium and then there's a shock to the system.

Elise Boddie:
So it requires persistence. And that's really the lesson that I would... I don't know if I'm consistent. I don't know if that's what I said last time but I think that's the real answer, Jay. Yeah.

Jay:
Thanks for coming and congratulations on your great work. It's really important. Could you connect this to the avid litigation for me and I know how is much about avenues, I should, I think I was financially focused and just resources and not segregation. And also isn't the Mauricetown school district a good example of integration when I last read about it. It seemed to be.

Elise Boddie:
Yeah. So just on that last point, so my colleague who's now retired from the law school but Paul Trachtenberg is writing a book about the Mauricetown school district-

Jay:
I've read an article that he wrote.

Elise Boddie:
Yeah.

Jay:
It's out there.

Elise Boddie:
Yeah, so he's done a lot of work around this and there are lots of good things. So Mauricetown, it was, there was a big case that came out of the Mauricetown school district, went to the New Jersey Supreme court and I won't go into all that, but essentially... So Mauricetown is one of the happy stories, but again to this sort of the conversation I was just having with Rutger, there are some dynamics happening within that school system. I think if I understand correctly, there's a burgeoning, a LatinX population, which is sort of creating some pressures on the system. So yes, good story. And Paul has really helped educate me around Mauricetown.

Elise Boddie:
But it's better than most, but it's also still a work in progress. Abbott had a slide up about it I just sort of breezed right through. So Abbott is this, it's a really important funding case. It's important for the country. A lot of people look to Abbott actually and the state, the New Jersey Supreme court, one of the most progressive historically courts in the country, Abbott I think there maybe 20 some Abbott cases out of the New Jersey Supreme court because you have to keep litigating. But essentially where Abbott landed in terms of its jurisprudence, the court said that you have to fund higher poverty school districts at the same level that you would fund wealthy, white, wealthy districts. And that has been hugely important. And I sort of breezed past it only because I was concerned about time. But Abbott has done terrific work in New Jersey. We have to be really clear about that.

Elise Boddie:
And David Sierra is from the Education Law Center, is on the board of the New Jersey coalition for diversity schools. Our school system would not be where it... We have a great... I mean I think we are last, we were like, New Jersey was a top school system in the country I think if I remember-

Janelle Scott:
Top funded -- more than double what California funded.

Elise Boddie:
It's a wealthy state, but for all this other stuff that's happening in the school system. But Abbott has been important but we have more work to do. And David says that we have more work to do and integration is that last piece that we need a part of.

Speaker 8:
And that was absent from Abbott?

Elise Boddie:
It was not about integration, it was solely about funding. And actually this is interesting. So Gary Spine, who's on the state Supreme court and I've been working with him very closely around this. And he's a fascinating guy and then he talks about the fact that, he laments the fact that, he said, "We didn't know how bad it was when we were on the court we didn't know." He said, "And they'd never, they never argued race and have been," and I said, "That was intentional. They don't want to argue race because race is the..." Then there's... That becomes a very different case. So great work not fully there yet. Yes.

Speaker 11:
I was raised across from the Palisade in Manhattan and across the Hudson river I could see Palisades Amusement Park, I couldn't swim in the pool. So in terms of Jersey being in the south, that was part of what I wanted to say. The other part is a shock to the system, like what you said is a shock. What's happening now with Trump and his boys is the shock to the system. Now we realize that how the Ku Klux Klan operates, that you get no information. Only the inside group knows what's really going on. So you're never going to know what's going on because you're not part of the inside group. So you the only way anything could happen is by demand. Just like what happened to me at UCSF, the Black Caucus had to demand more students there, just like every place else during the sixties and seventies there had to be a domain.

Speaker 11:
No, we can't take this, this whole thing, I feel really sensitive because you've mentioned something about White and Asians kind of needed to be protected and I agree with you. However the black student needs to be still protected. I mean look, just because you come in there, it's terrible. Forget the Latino and your name. Forget it. I hate to say this, but things go right back to what they were. I mean, you may have a few people, I mean, I got through, you got through.

Itoco. G:
But that's the problem.

Speaker 11:
You got through. Not enough people got through. So I believe in absolute truth, that regardless of color I know we have got to go to the truth of what the truth is. You have to be willing to fight for that truth. It has to come out. I love my granddaughter just got into UCLA, which is awesome because she came from Berkeley high, that had the historical tracking, when she says grandma, they don't have that anymore. So anyway, the point that I'm trying to make is that you're not getting all the information when you sit in those meetings and whatever, they're just giving you as much as they want you to know because there's a whole nother thing going on that you're not privy to.

Speaker 11:
And it's just like when I got out of graduate school and what they told me, if you don't get invited to the country club, you are not in baby. You're not getting... That's what I got in my masters. That's what I learned in masters. On the masters level, and going like, "If you do not get into the country club you are not going to get the action."

Elise Boddie:
So a couple of points. One is that -- I mean, well -- that's part of what I mean about how the forces of white supremacy always replicate themselves. That's an ongoing process and you need law to do that. People say, "We'll just do..." I probably shouldn't say this because we're being taped but... Okay, I'm not going to say it. But anyway we met with a certain individual and they said, "Why do you need to sue us? Like, we'll just sit down and work with you." And we said, "Uh-huh (affirmative), no, no, no. First of all, you need the pressure of law. If you are someone in government, you need the pressure of law to give you cover to do the right thing."

Elise Boddie:
The point about this administration, so it connects with a question that someone raised earlier maybe it was the gentleman over here. But what is interesting and ironic, sadly, about this time is that this has kind of awakened people in ways that you're like, "Oh my God, race actually does matter. We're not colorblind or post racial or whatever it is they were talking about during the Obama administration."

Elise Boddie:
So it has interestingly and sadly created some opportunities. I have to just say quickly about the pool. So I have another project that I'm actually related to this. And I can't tell you how many times I hear this about the pools, that's a thing. So Robert L. Carter, who was Thurgood Marshall's number two at the legal defense fund and was central in the Brown case was the son of New Jersey and he, in 1933, there was a decision by the New Jersey Supreme court, which said, you can't segregate the public pools. And he was at a high school where they were segregating the public pools. Well, what happened is the White children would swim on one day. The black children would swim on another day and then the school would drain the pool and clean it, and then they... So he was always a fighter. So he was 16 at the time, I think he was a junior in East Orange high school in New Jersey.

Elise Boddie:
And the New Jersey Supreme court issued a ruling in 1933 that said that was unconstitutional. And so he took a copy of the ruling to the swimming pool and he jumped in the water when the white kids were in the pool.

Speaker 11:
I know. They jumped out.

Elise Boddie:
I don't actually know what... Anyway, but he did this day after day until the end of the school year. The problem was he couldn't swim, which is serious, right? There's a reason why black children drown disproportionately in this country because we haven't been taught how to swim. And so he did that day in and day out until he graduated. But that experience, that lit a fire in him. So I totally hear you on the pool. Okay.

 

Resource Type: