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Don’t be a thief—save your grade, use Bib Me™ and give credit to those who deserve it!In August 2014, a Ferguson, Missouri, policeman shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. Media accounts of how Ferguson became Ferguson have typically explained that when African Americans moved to this suburb (and others like it), “white flight” followed, abandoning the town to African Americans who were trying to escape poor schools in the city. The conventional explanation adds that African Americans moved to a few places like Ferguson, not the suburbs generally, because prejudiced real estate agents steered black homebuyers away from other white suburbs. The Department of Justice is investigating the killing of teenager Michael Brown and the practices of the Ferguson police department, but aside from the president’s concern that perhaps we have militarized all police forces too much, no broader inferences from the events of August 2014 are being drawn by policymakers.
White flight certainly existed, and racial prejudice was certainly behind it, but not racial prejudice alone. Remedies are unlikely if we fail to recognize these policies and how their effects have endured. In 1968, Larman Williams was one of the first African Americans to buy a home in the white suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. “Laclede: An Experiment in Ethnic Harmony.” The Seattle Times, November 9. Louis suburb.1 His wife, Geraldine, was a teacher in a Missouri state special education school. “The Structures of Urban Poverty: The Reorganization of Space and Work in Three Periods of American History.” In Michael B. Together, they could afford to live in middle-class Ferguson and hoped to protect their three daughters from the violence of their St. They expected that their children would get better educations in Ferguson than in Wellston because Ferguson could afford to hire more skilled teachers, have a higher teacher-pupil ratio, and have extra resources to invest in specialists and academic enrichment programs. Reported in Race Relations Law Reporter 5 (1960), 207–215. Katz, ed., The Underclass Debate: Views from History.
And in any event, those other suburbs were able to preserve their almost entirely white, upper-middle-class environments by enacting zoning rules that required only expensive single family homes, the thinking goes.