Journal Article

White Privilege, Black Burden: Lost Opportunities and Deceptive Narratives in School Desegregation in Claiborne County, Mississippi

Emilye Crosby

in The Oral History Review

Published on behalf of Oral History Association

Volume 39, issue 2, pages 258-285
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0094-0798
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1533-8592 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ohr/ohs088
White Privilege, Black Burden: Lost Opportunities and Deceptive Narratives in School Desegregation in Claiborne County, Mississippi

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Abstract: Claiborne County, Mississippi, experienced a now-familiar trajectory in its history of school desegregation: from segregation, through a brief and limited period of integration, to white flight and the resegregation of the public schools. This article examines the history of school desegregation in Claiborne County through the lens of oral history interviews recorded in the 1990s when whites and blacks in this majority-black community were engaging in their first tentative interracial conversations since the civil rights movement. Oral histories conducted in this context document the persistence of white privilege, not only in the way it had limited educational opportunities for African Americans in the past, but also in the way it obscures white culpability for that history in the present and undermines contemporary possibilities for meaningful integration. The interviews also suggest lost opportunities, as they offer a glimpse of what might have been possible had whites stayed in the public schools.

Keywords: school desegregation; civil rights movement; black politics; memory; Claiborne County; Mississippi

Journal Article.  13934 words. 

Subjects: Oral History

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