The Washington Post takes a look back on something Kamala Harris has brought to the political headlines in trying to beat down Joe Biden’s Black support for the Democratic nomination ….
Sixteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools, an attorney representing black families in Charlotte stood before the court. The landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, he argued, had failed to deliver on its promise.
“Black children and parents in Charlotte have struggled since Brown,” said the attorney, Julius Chambers. He urged the high court to embrace a plan to integrate Charlotte schools through a controversial method: busing black children to white schools, and vice versa.
The Supreme Court agreed, unanimously endorsing busing as a legitimate means of unraveling the segregation of children by race. The 1971 decision launched an explosive chapter in American history, touching off a long and polarizing battle that set public opinion against busing for decades, even as the programs succeeded in promoting integration.
Later, evidence would emerge that busing improved outcomes for black students, with no harm to white students. But that evidence came far too late to change public perceptions of a program that was hugely unpopular among whites and left blacks divided.
The vexing issue has reverberated through the Democratic presidential primary since last month’s debates, when Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) criticized former vice president Joe Biden for opposing court-ordered busing in the 1970s. But Harris soon found herself backpedaling when asked whether she would advocate busing today: Last week, she called it a tool to be “considered” but mandated only if local governments are “actively opposing integration.”
That position is not so far from Biden’s, and not a single Democratic candidate is arguing for a return to mandatory busing. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has promised to “execute and enforce desegregation orders” but has not said how. Most candidates have focused on creating incentives for districts and families to create diverse schools on their own…