• Jun. 29, 2007 – Free to Choose; Free at Last.
Posted in Commentary
The New York Times headlines proclaim: “Justices Limit the Use of Race in School Plans for Integration”. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/washington/29scotus.html?th&emc=th )
“WASHINGTON, June 28 — With competing blocs of justices claiming the mantle of Brown v. Board of Education, a bitterly divided Supreme Court declared Thursday that public school systems cannot seek to achieve or maintain integration through measures that take explicit account of a student’s race.”
“Voting 5 to 4, the court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr invalidated programs in Seattle and metropolitan Louisville, Ky., that sought to maintain school-by-school diversity by limiting transfers on the basis of race or using race as a “tiebreaker” for admission to particular schools.”
“Both programs had been upheld by lower federal courts and were similar to plans in place in hundreds of school districts around the country. Chief Justice Roberts said such programs were “directed only to racial balance, pure and simple,” a goal he said was forbidden by the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he said. (Roberts)” was the most profound statement made in all the yammering done by all the Justices (see excerpts of all their statements on later pages, and also see Op Ed pages for opinions).
It has been 53 years since Brown v. Board of Education made busing children all over cities and counties to equally integrate schools. This was a necessary first step towards offering a free and equal education to both races. It was also a necessary first step towards having the races mingle and become familiar with each other. It was a necessary “first step”. It is however now time to move beyond this necessary first step and into a society where a persons civil rights are truly granted. Civil Liberty means the right to choose! That is what Martin Luther King Jr. and all the civil rights workers wanted for America: the right for all of it’s citizens to freely choose where they went to school, where they ate, where they shopped and worked and lived. The right to choose for themselves and not to be told that they had to sit in the back of the bus!
This goal, this right of choice has been achieved. Yes, discrimination due to race still exists, but so does discrimination due to sex and weight and intelligence and every other thing one person can find to boast of over another person. Discrimination is a sad fact of life that will never disappear as long as human beings are the fallible creatures we are. But we have now gotten in place an amendment to our Constitution that makes this overt discrimination unlawful and protects the right of all people no matter their race, sex or creed. And it has been almost three generations of living together in the schools and workplaces and neighborhoods. Now it is time to let the people have their full civil rights and choose for themselves. And since the granting of civil rights and the end of segregation began with integrating the schools this is the appropriate place for it to end.
It was a sad fact that we had to use and abuse our children to achieve racial equality, but it had to be. The young who had not yet formed prejudices of their own and who as innocent children would reach out and not see color when they looked at a school mate, but only see a possible friend.
There are many who will call yesterday a sad day for America and a wrong decision by the courts and the Supreme Court. There will be others like me who worked for Civil Rights most of my life who will feel the time has come to stop discriminating because of race and forcing our children to continue to be bused all over God’s half acre just to satisfy some arbitrary figure set up by the courts and the school boards to make sure there are X number of each race in every school. Yes, it is time for us in America to truly have our freedom to choose; our civil rights. It is time for us all to be free at last. BB