Alabama George Wallace famously pledged “segregation forever” in 1963, only to watch Jim Crow dismantled by federal law over the next few years. In the history books, and now at a multiplex near you, Wallace lost and Martin Luther King, Jr. won.
In fact, though, we all know there’s been no such storybook ending—especially when it comes to the segregation of America’s neighborhoods and schools. Instead, Wallace’s promise for the future has largely come true, minus the “Whites Only” signs—as documented by an endless stream of studies. One 2013 study, by Richard Rothstein and the Economic Policy Institute, put things this way:
Racial isolation of African American children in separate schools located in separate neighborhoods has become a permanent feature of our landscape. Today, African American students are more isolated than they were 40 years ago, while most education policymakers and reformers have abandoned integration as a cause.