#TodayInBlackHistory: Two Persistent Falsehoods About Black Children Dispelled

Written on 1 March 2015, 08:19pm under Homegrown

There are two common myths about Black children that run in the background of policy and education discussions like Muzak. And like Muzak, it’s impossible to get the tune out of people’s heads.

The first is the absentee Black father. It’s a lie that’s been given cheerful support on the left and on the right, in politics and in the media. Irrefutable evidence shows that Black fathers are more involved in their children’s lives than dads from other racial and ethnic groups. Yet the stereotype endures.

The second is the fight for educational access and equity for Black children began with Brown v. Board of Education. Public schools have long been the sites on which the struggle for equity has been fought. Black parents have always demonstrated the capacity to act forcefully to gain quality schooling for their children. And the fight for equitable education in the Black community did not begin with a Black third-grade girl in Topeka, Kansas.

Because of the bold courage of one Black father – a former slave and one of the first Blacks to migrate to the West – a monumental achievement was accomplished for Black children in California on March 1, 1890. Excerpts from news reports and historical summaries tell the story in all its glorious detail.

(Edmund Edward) Wysinger…brought his son Arthur to Visalia (California) High School on Oct. 1, 1888 and said, “Here is my boy to put in your school. He was told by the teacher, S.A. Crookshank, to take his son to the “colored” school, thus excluding him from a public school established for white children. Crookshank denied Wysinger’s request on the grounds that Visalia’s Board of Education provided separate schools for black children. So began a two-year journey through California’s judicial system that ended in California’s highest court, a journey that saw the end of the notion of separate-but-equal in area public schools.

Edmund Wysinger…filed a writ of mandate on behalf of his minor son, Arthur, on October 2, 1888, challenging a public institution’s authority to deny a group its constitutional right because of race, color, or national origin. On March 1, 1890, the California Supreme Court, in Wysinger v. Crookshank reversed a lower court decision and ordered 12-year-old Arthur Wysinger admitted to Visalia’s regular school system.

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – A quote frequently attributed to Mark Twain but actually comes from Charles Spurgeon, a British preacher from the 1800s.

#TodayInBlackHistory is laced up and ready. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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