A federal court has ordered the Department of Justice to desegregate a Mississippi school district where students in some secondary schools are still separated by race. Exactly 62 years ago today, Brown v. Board of Education ruled segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. For the past five decades, the Cleveland School District has been in a legal battle to desegregate their schools. The school district located in a town of 12,000 people currently has 3,700 students. The student demographic consists of 66% black students, 30% white students, and 4% Asian or Hispanic students. This federal decision will consolidate the all-black junior high with the all-white junior high school and the same for it's segregated high schools. A member of the community told the press, “(w)e can break down this wall of racism that divides us and keeps us separated, and we could create a new culture in our school system that’s going to unite us and unite our whole city.” Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of Civil Rights at the Justice Department, released a statement saying, “Six decades after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declared that ‘separate but equal has no place’ in public schools, this decision serves as a reminder to districts that delaying desegregation obligations is both unacceptable and unconstitutional.This victory creates new opportunities for the children of Cleveland to learn, play and thrive together. The court’s ruling will result in the immediate and effective desegregation of the district’s middle school and high school program for the first time in the district’s more than century-long history.” As the school district works to consolidate immediately and put the federal plan into action, they have yet to decide upon appealing the decision as outlined in the 96-page order. All eyes are on this city in the delta as they break down the walls of systematic racism.
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