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.