Beacon Press
Independent Publishing Since 1854
25 Beacon Street Boston, MA 02108 · Tel: 617.742.2110 · Fax: 617.723.3097
Cart is empty  View Cart View Shopping Cart

Book Search

Divided We Fail - The Story of an African American Community That Ended the Era of School Desegregation
Divided We Fail: The Story of an African American Community That Ended the Era of School Desegregation
Author: Sarah Garland
Product Code: 0177 ISBN: 978-080700177-6
Binding Information: Cloth 
6 X 9 Inches (US)
Copyright Date Ed: 
Trade Code: 
Price: $26.95 In stock.

Examines why school desegregation, despite its success in closing the achievement gap, was never embraced wholeheartedly in the black community as a remedy for racial inequality

In 2007, a court case originally filed in Louisville, Kentucky, was argued before the Supreme Court and officially ended the era of school desegregation, changing how schools across America handle race and undermining the most important civil rights cases of the last century. This was not the first federal lawsuit that challenged school desegregation, but it was the first-and only-brought by African Americans.

In this unique in-depth examination of the Louisville case, journalist Sarah Garland returns to her hometown to understand why black families in the most racially integrated school system in America led the charge against desegregation. Weaving together the voices of parents, students, and teachers who fought for and against desegregation, Garland's eye-opening narrative upends assumptions about the history of busing and its aftermath.

Desegregation corresponded with unprecedented gains in black achievement and economic progress, but in Louisville, those gains often came at a cost: traditionally black schools that had been bastions of community identity and pride faced closure; hundreds of black teachers lost their jobs; parents were helpless as their children's futures were dictated by racial quotas. In illuminating the often overlooked human stories behind this fraught legal struggle, Garland reveals the difficult compromises forced on the black community in the wake of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Divided We Fail is a nuanced and gripping account of one community's struggle that has important lessons for the next generation of education reformers. By taking a close look at where desegregation went wrong, Garland uncovers problems with a new set of education ideas, including school choice, charter schools, and test-based accountability systems. But she also reminds us not to forget desegregation's many successes as we look for ways to close the achievement gap for minority students.

Read the preface

Review   Publishers Weekly - October 8, 2012
"A nuanced and thoroughly researched look at the complicated history of school desegregation in the United States... Garland is unafraid to grapple with hard truths and intimate portraits of the families behind the statistics."
Review   Kirkus Reviews - October 15, 2012
"A useful journalistic examination of a troubling societal phenomenon."
Review   Booklist - February 1, 2013
"A compelling look at the complexities of race and class in the continued struggle for racial parity and high-quality education."

"Divided We Fail is, quite simply, an extraordinary book. Garland grapples with divisive social and educational issues, puts them into historical perspective, and shows a path out of our current confusion." —Diane Ravitch, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, historian, and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System

"With all the noise about failing schools, standardized tests, teacher accountability, and America's educational decline, only the courageous are willing to acknowledge the persistence of racism-let alone, address the problem in a serious, clear-eyed way. Sarah Garland has written a courageous book, documenting the struggles of courageous community activists, educators, parents, and children who continued to fight for equity and racial justice long after our nation declared victory over segregation. In telling this gripping, often tragic, often inspirational story, Garland reveals that integrating a classroom is not the same as dismantling racism. Divided We Failis one of those rare books that will move even the most cynical to act. And act we must." —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

"Sarah Garland has brilliantly and humanely filled in a missing piece of America's civil rights narrative. Divided We Fail is a story about the beloved institutions black Americans made for themselves-in this case, a formerly segregated high school in Louisville-and their fight to preserve and protect them. Garland renders this saga with a deep, compassionate knowledge of her own home city and equal empathy for all the partisans in a bitter legal battle." —Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist

Beacon pressBeacon Press is a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association