Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger: School Segregation in Rochester, New York

Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger: School Segregation in Rochester, New York

by Justin Murphy
Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger: School Segregation in Rochester, New York

Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger: School Segregation in Rochester, New York

by Justin Murphy


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In Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger, the veteran journalist Justin Murphy makes the compelling argument that the educational disparities in Rochester, New York, are the result of historical and present-day racial segregation. Education reform alone will never be the full solution; to resolve racial inequity, cities such as Rochester must first dismantle segregation.

Drawing on never-before-seen archival documents as well as scores of new interviews, Murphy shows how discriminatory public policy and personal prejudice combined to create the racially segregated education system that exists in the Rochester area today. Alongside this dismal history, Murphy recounts the courageous fight for integration and equality, from the advocacy of Frederick Douglass in the 1850s to a countywide student coalition inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the 2010s.

This grinding antagonism, featuring numerous failed efforts to uphold the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, underlines that desegregation and integration offer the greatest opportunity to improve educational and economic outcomes for children of color in the United States. To date, that opportunity has been lost in Rochester, and persistent poor academic outcomes have been one terrible result.

Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger is a history of Rochester with clear relevance for today. The struggle for equity in Rochester, like in many northern cities, shows how the burden of history lies on the present. A better future for these cities requires grappling with their troubled pasts. Murphy's account is a necessary contribution to twenty-first-century Rochester.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501761867
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 03/15/2022
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 1,079,873
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Justin Murphy is the education reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York. Follow him on X @CitizenMurphy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Question of Questions
1. The African School
2. Nowhere Else to Go
3. Willing Combatants
4. Six Rugged Years, All Uphill
5. From Charlotte to Milliken
6. Considering the Metropolis
7. The Urban-Suburban Program
8. The Age of Accountability
Conclusion: Three Steps toward Change

What People are Saying About This

Joan Coles Howard

Everyone should read Justin Murphy's Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger. The book should be read far and wide because it provides a better understanding of the historical realities that have brought us to where we are today. The issues addressed here are American issues and not confined to Rochester.

Matthew F. Delmont

Murphy brings to light the complex and contentious issues of school desegregation and educational equality in Rochester, New York. From Frederick Douglass in the nineteenth century to Black parents in the Civil Rights era, Murphy details generations of Black activism. This is a local story with national implications.

Gary Orfield

In our dangerously polarized society, a viable future depends on educating all children fairly, preparing them to live and work together in a society without a racial majority. Justin Murphy's carefully documented, quietly passionate book about generations of segregation and failure in Rochester's deeply unequal schools calls us start now on building a real path toward integration.

Ansley T. Erickson

Murphy adeptly analyzes school segregation in the city of Rochester by carefully blending sources from the era of the Great Migration up to the twenty-first century. Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger is a resource to local educators, community members, and students seeking to understand and improve Rochester schools.

Christine L. Ridarsky

Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger traces patterns of racial inequality from the early nineteenth century through the Civil Rights era to the present. Justin Murphy demonstrates why schools in Rochester are failing Black and Brown children; his historical analysis is key to understanding educational inequity today.

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