For decades, Marietta High was the flagship public school of a largely white suburban community in Cobb County, Georgia, just northwest of Atlanta. Today, as the school’s majority black and Latino students struggle with high rates of poverty and low rates of graduation, Marietta High has become a symbol of the wave of resegregation that is sweeping white students and students of color into separate schools across the American South.
Students of the Dream begins with the first generations of Marietta High desegregators authorized by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling and follows the experiences of later generations who saw the dream of integration fall apart. Grounded in over one hundred interviews with current and former Marietta High students, parents, teachers, community leaders, and politicians, this innovative ethnographic history invites readers onto the key battlegrounds—varsity sports, school choice, academic tracking, and social activism—of Marietta’s struggle against resegregation. Well-intentioned calls for diversity and colorblindness, Ruth Carbonette Yow shows, have transformed local understandings of the purpose and value of school integration, and not always for the better.
The failure of local, state, or national policies to stem the tide of resegregation is leading activists—students, parents, and teachers—to reject traditional integration models and look for other ways to improve educational outcomes among African American and Latino students. Yow argues for a revitalized commitment to integration, but one that challenges many of the orthodoxies—including colorblindness—inherited from the mid-twentieth-century civil rights struggle.
Yow’s evocative and enlightening work convincingly argues that there is vast potential to reimagine integration for contemporary times. Students of the Dream is a major contribution to our understanding of school integration’s impact upon society.
Yow has done something very brave in our data-driven era; she has moved in close and watched and listened to students describe their experiences with desegregation, integration, and resegregation. Even more astonishing, she has dared to follow the students in offering an answer: a new era of integration they are working so hard, with so few resources, to build. Beautifully written, emotionally rich, and compelling, Students of the Dream is a must-read for today’s teachers and students as well as everyone who believes integrated public education is essential to the future of our democracy.
Yow examines the desegregation and resegregation of Marietta’s schools through the lived experience of young people in classrooms, extracurricular activities, and sports. Her account takes the story into the present day in order to include the introduction of large numbers of Latino, immigrant, and even undocumented students into the district. This engagingly written work points us forward to strategies for accomplishing a more equitable future in American education.
- 2018, Winner of the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize
- 272 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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