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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 19, 2014

 
What's the matter with Topeka?  They haven't learned a damned thing in 60 years.

by digby

A school district in Topeka Kansas invited Michelle Obama to speak at a high school graduation. And all hell broke loose:
A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate. For others, it was the notion that Obama's speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student's big day.
Well, they aren't lining up in front of the courthouse to block her entrance so I suppose they've evolved. I think we know what's really going on here don't we? Yes, the people they interviewed said they were all very upset because it took the spotlight off the kids. And that might even make sense if having guest speakers at graduations wasn't something you see all over the nation every single year. Yes, this is a high school rather than a university, but it's hardly unprecedented either. In fact, Michelle Obama spoke at this High School graduation a couple of years ago. Here's the Notre Dame basketball coach addressing a high school commencement. Here's Rudy Giuliani at a high school graduation.  Here's President Obama at one. Here's Ben Affleck. It happens all the time. And the students and parents are thrilled.

No, these people just don't want this commencement speaker, the first African American first lady, coming there to mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark supreme court decision overturning segregation in the public schools. You'd think they'd be thrilled to be a part of such a momentous occasion and would remember it forever. Instead, they're looking for reasons not to do it.


Mother (Nettie Hunt) and daughter (Nickie) sit on steps of the Supreme Court building on May 18, 1954, the day following the Court's historic decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Nettie is holding a newspaper with the headline "High Court Bans Segregation in Public Schools."

And yes, the schools are no longer segregated by law. But 60 years later, the people of Topeka still can't bring themselves to acknowledge their role in that landmark legal finding  --- and they're teaching their kids to ignore what happened. (Well, that's the most generous way of looking at it ...)  What a missed opportunity for a beautiful moment of recognition and reconciliation.

Jesus H Christ --- how long can they keep this up?

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