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A Small Victory for Colorblindness
For over 30 years the middle school in Nettleton, Mississippi, had classified students who wished to run in student elections by race. One year particular offices, such as class president, were reserved for white students; the next year they were opened only to blacks. This policy was implemented, said the school district, in response to a court order, likely involving a desegregation case.
The intent of the policy was to ensure that blacks were elected to student offices. The assumption was that white students would not vote in sufficient numbers for black students, and with whites the overwhelming majority in the district, blacks would never be elected. By setting aside certain offices each year for black students, some were guaranteed to hold office regardless of their popularity among fellow students.
Early news reports, with such headlines as “Want to Be Class President? Not If You’re Black in This School” (MSNBC), “Miss. Middle School Bars Black Students From Running for Class President” (ABC News), and (after a change in policy on August 27) “Free at Last — Black Kids Can Now Run for President at Deep South School” (Newsweek), focused on the exclusion of blacks and played on stereotypes of the South, rarely mentioning the alternating-race policy.
The good news is that as a result of the attention Springer’s case brought to the school’s policy, the district announced in an August 27 statement that “beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office.” The school board voted unanimously to adopt this policy.
Where does such a child — or any of Springer’s other children, all of whom are mixed-race — fall in the school’s binary racial classification system? Springer said the school board told her they “go by the mother’s race because with minorities the father isn’t generally in the home.” Thus, with Springer being white, her daughter was classified as white and prohibited from running for class reporter.
In a school with a majority of black students do white students get elected president?
According to historian Wyn Wade, as early as 1921, just as a congressional investigation of the KKK’s violent and racist activities was being carried out , the Klan had already eaten its way into the ultimate seat of U.S. power. President Warren G. Harding agreed to be sworn in as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Accordingly, a five man Klan team, presided over by Simmons, conducted the initiation in the Green Room of the White House.