, 11 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
If school desegregation is “political poison” today it is in part because terms like “forced busing” & “de facto segregation” are repeated w/o context.

Here is some of what I learned in studying the history of “busing” for my book “Why Busing Failed" ucpress.edu/book/978052028…
First, school buses made the modern public school system possible. Number of students transported to school at public expense in US expanded from 600K in 1920 to 20M in 1970. Buses enabled multi-grade elementary schools and comprehensive high schools, rather than one-room schools
Buses had long been used in the South, as well as New York, Boston, and many other northern cities, to maintain segregation. These were mandatory assignments, but white parents did not oppose this “forced busing” whybusingfailed.com/anvc/why-busin…
So buses were not controversial for white parents until they were linked to school desegregation in the 1950s. As Julian Bond commented, "It's not the bus, it's us." whybusingfailed.com/anvc/why-busin…
“De facto” segregation, meanwhile, was a cultural and political construct. As historian Matthew Lassiter has shown, it was actually initially advanced by civil rights advocates to build a political consensus against Jim Crow laws in the South
However, the de jure–de facto dichotomy ultimately made it possible for public officials, judges, and citizens in both North and South to deny legal responsibility for the visible realities of racial segregation.
Judges ordered “busing” as a remedy in school districts such as Boston, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Pontiac that were found guilty of intentional de jure segregation in violation of Brown v Board and the 14th Amendment
Regarding the “de facto” myth, Leon Panetta, then U.S. Dept of Health, Education, & Welfare chief, said in 1969: “There are few if any pure de facto situations. Lift the rock of de facto and something ugly and discriminatory crawls out from under it”
Or, James Baldwin put it more succinctly in 1965: “De facto segregation means Negroes are segregated, but nobody did it.” whybusingfailed.com/anvc/why-busin…
If you don't account for the history of how local, state and federal policies segregated school districts across the country, and how this segregation was intentionally maintained for decades, it is easy to see school desegregation as "political poison"
I tweeted a thread earlier regarding “busing” in relation to the #DemDebate2 exchange between #KamalaHarris & Joe #Biden. You can find it here:
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