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4/27 – Frank Kirkland on W.E.B. Du Bois and Brown v. Board of Education @ Brooklyn Public Philosophers
Apr 27, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm| Free
It’s hard to find a civil, reason-based, and open-minded discussion about race. It’s hard to find such a discussion about public education. It’s harder to find such a discussion about race and public education.
On 4/27 at 7:00 P.M., Frank Kirkland (Hunter College / CUNY Graduate Center) will bring precisely that to Brooklyn Public Philosophers. Here’s a bit more about Dr. Kirkland’s talk, in his own words:
“W.E.B. Du Bois and Brown v. Board of Education”
Most people regard the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education as symbolizing the meaning of racial equality and equal educational opportunity. They tend to take Brown as (1) granting legal authority to bring about racial integration and (2) forbidding compulsory racial segregation in public schools and thereby eliminating black schools.
Though he never rejected the decision outright, Du Bois was critical of Brown. His criticisms were focused not on (1), but on (2). His criticism of (2) relies on our understanding of the value and motivational force of who we each take ourselves to be in an egalitarian and pluralistic society. This criticism of Brown does not bind him, in all instances, to the position that single-race schools should be consciously and freely embraced; but it does bind him to that position if other schools violate rights and single-race schools do not.
Du Bois fervently opposed the view that black children developed sentiments of inferiority in all single-race or exclusively black schools. But he didn’t explain black children’s feelings of inferiority in terms of their educational need to be motivated and appreciated. Rather he gave a narrative of the experience of those exposed to the judgments of others when participating in the educational pursuit for approval. Human beings make this educational pursuit from a young age, which always involves a comparison with others.
Du Bois knew that such judgments can be not only inegalitarian, but inflammatory and demoralizing. But, I shall argue, Du Bois also knew that a more egalitarian education for black children – an education in which black children conceive of themselves as equal in moral standing to all others while seeking excellence and the concomitant esteem that comes in reaching what is sought – could come from a single-race or exclusively black school without perpetuating compulsory racial segregation.
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See you there, I hope!