Tipping the Scales: Addressing Issues of "Racial Imbalance" in the Jones School through Integration

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:45
Oral Presentation
Gabrielle PETERSON, University of Michigan, USA
I am proposing a segment of my research on Black migration and structural integration processes in Southeast Michigan. While scholars have analyzed the establishment, persistence, and effects of segregation, the process and the entities involved in undoing that racialized structural inequality receives less attention. Understanding this process and resistance to it helps us contextualize the racial conflict in metropolitan areas internationally, and critique society’s former solutions. My research uses case studies to analyze how citizens and state institutions executed and resisted school and neighborhood structural integration in Washtenaw County and how that process varies across cities and time. I have reduced my sites to Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Saline, with much of my focus on Ann Arbor history. My presentation will chronicle the transition from segregated Jones [Elementary] School to the integrated Community High School as chronicled in archives and recorded by local stakeholders. This process started in ’63 when a report from the Committee to Study Racial Distribution in the Public Schools of Ann Arbor concluded that Black students’ school experience is related to their segregation in neighborhoods. Between 1960 and 1985, Ann Arbor Board of Education and City Council sponsored four studies on the segregated schools in the city, and had exhaustive meetings about how to integrate what is now 21 schools. By June 1965 The Jones School closed its doors and over the next 7 years before Community High School opened, parents, city officials, and activists not only deliberated over what to do with the Jones School, but the larger school system, which was still reeling from segregation. This analysis will help ground similar processes that occurred in the past and present within international history.