ARC Seminar: Bonastia: The Southern Attack on Northern Hypocrisy in Education

MAR 30, 2017 | 4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 30, 2017: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM




Advanced Research Collaborative


ARC Seminar: Christopher Bonastia: The Southern Attack on Northern Hypocrisy in Education

After the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954) banning intentional segregation in schools, most of the white South spent the next decade evading the mandate to create desegregated school systems. New York City and many of its purportedly liberal Northern counterparts denied that they intentionally fostered school segregation, but vowed to redouble their efforts to increase integration. Their deeds fell fall short of their rhetoric. Infuriated by sanctimonious Northern criticism of segregation and racism in the South, white newspaper editors, anti-integration activists and politicians sought to expose Northern hypocrisy via scathing editorials, publicity stunts such as the “Reverse Freedom Rides,” and the introduction of legislation to compel school desegregation nationwide. This presentation recounts several of these efforts, asking: Did white Southerners have a point?

Christopher Bonastia is Professor of Sociology at Lehman College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and serves as the Associate Director of Honors Programs at Lehman. Bonastia’s research focuses on the politics of racial inequality. He has published two books: Knocking on the Door: The Federal Government’s Attempt to Desegregate the Suburbs (Princeton University Press, 2006) and Southern Stalemate: Five Years without Public Education in Prince Edward County, Virginia (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The latter was a 2013 nominee for the Library of Virginia Literary Award in Non-Fiction. PBS Newshour used Southern Stalemate as its sole source for a widely distributed handout, targeting students in Grades 7-12, on the school closings in Prince Edward County, Virginia. In addition, Bonastia was a consultant to This American Life for an episode in its “House Rules” report (November 2013) on federal housing desegregation efforts under former HUD Secretary George Romney. Since 2013, Bonastia’s work has been published in Sociological ForumKalfouContexts and History of Education Quarterly (forthcoming, November 2016). His current book project examines tensions between New York City’s liberal self-image and its persistent unwillingness to address racial and economic segregation in schools and housing.