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Brown V Board Of Education” Group Discussion Questions

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1) What is the struggle that Gunnar Myrdal perceives between American values and beliefs and how does this struggle both define and affect how African Americans are perceived and treated in America? (p103)

2) Why does Myrdal believe that “the Negro problem is a white man’s problem and that this “problem” is reflective of “the whole complex of problems in the larger American civilization,”? What is he suggesting about American capitalism, egalitarianism, democracy, justice – social and racial, and the position of blacks and whites in relationship to structures and institutions embodied within American society? (pp105-108)

3) Why was the struggle against Jim Crow “fundamentally as much about economic justice as about political and civil rights”? Explain and discuss the legal reasoning used by Charles Houston. What was social engineering and why did social policy “need to be understood as it actually operated” to effectively address the problem of Jim Crow and its effect on black life in America?(pp 10-13)

4) What was the assimilationist view of African American culture and how was this political view of black culture intended to be used to hold white Americans accountable? How did the resultant image of the “damaged black psyche” become politicized by conservatives and liberals to be used both for and against blacks and negatively serve to racialize black culture rather than to perceive its strengths as noted by W.E.B. DuBois and Zora Neale Hurston? (pp36-37)

5) Discuss the arguments that were made and presented to the courts on the effects of racial segregation according to social class. What behaviors resulted in children according to both race and social class? What were the conclusions of social scientists that had concerned themselves with the problem of segregation? (pp142-145)
6) What was the original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment and why was this used as part of the argument against segregated schools? How does the doctrine of original intent support the notion of judicial restraint and what was the conclusion of the Court in regards to the evidence submitted concerning the Fourteenth Amendment and the power to abolish segregated schools? (pp156-164) What was the opinion argued by Chief Justice Earl Warren, what keys points did he make and how did this argument persuade the Court? (pp168- 174)

7) Discuss some of the opportunities as well as the fears expressed by Southerners concerning the results of the Brown case. In your opinion were these fears warrant or justify the substandard education blacks received? What fears and arguments are made to justify the substandard education blacks receive in many schools today?

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