First, that (obvious Communist) Earl Warren presided over the Brown v. Board of Education decision that obliterated the separate-but-equal wall behind which racists had operated since the end of the Civil War. (It makes me laugh to hear people criticize Warren as some kind of raging leftist. Before he became Chief Justice, Warren obsessively fought against labor unions, once put a woman in prison for having attended a Communist meeting in Oakland, was a member of the openly racist Native Sons of the Golden West, and was the prime mover behind the rounding up and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. That he finally got one right comes as a surprise.)
Then, the True Sons of the South had to endure all that media scrutiny after the torture and brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. The TV, radio and newspaper people from up North had painted an ugly picture of Mississippi, not even trying to understand the prevailing attitude in the Magnolia State, that being that Till probably had it coming, what with the fact that he had touched a white woman's hand and all.
More unwarranted bad publicity came when the University of Mississippi men's basketball team won the SEC championship and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament. It was a really big deal back then because only conference champions got to go. But Mississippi had a law (yes, a law!) that said that it was illegal for Mississippians to play against black people. The Rebel players were eventually smuggled out of the state (some in the trunks of cars) so that they could go play the game.
They would lose the game to eventual NCAA champion (and integrated) Loyola of Chicago. There's a really cool picture of Mississippi captain Joe Dan Gold shaking hands with Loyola's (African-American) captain Jerry Harkness. (This was three years before the "Glory Road" game between all-black Texas Western and all-white Kentucky.)
Joe Dan Gold died in 2011. Jerry Harkness attended the funeral and broke down crying when he saw that the picture on the casket was that of the two ballplayers shaking hands.
However, while Joe Dan Gold died, Mississippi racism never really did. By the time Texan (and race-traitor) Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act in 1964, white racist Mississippians were beset on all sides. The race-mixers in Washington, D.C. were going to force little white kids to go to school with Negroes. Faced with that unacceptable scenario, the great minds of Mississippi came up with the perfect solution: "school choice" through the use of vouchers.
The plan would give parents government vouchers to allow their kids to attend all-white academies; thereby avoiding the soon-to-be integrated public schools. Theoretically, black parents could have requested a voucher, but it would have resulted in a loss of job, physical violence or even worse.
A half-century later, not a whole lot has changed. The same kinds of people are still shouting for school choice and pushing for ridiculous vouchers. Some have even wormed their way onto the fringes of the political mainstream and are, quite cynically, using minorities to try to push through their agenda.
Leading the charge these days are two women, each more despicable than the other. Here is Arizona, we are subjected to the unhinged rantings of Debbie Lesko, who claims that giving taxpayer money to rich people to help cover the high cost of exclusive private schools would somehow be good for the state's budget. Fortunately, not even a whole lot of her fellow Republicans agree with her, so her crackpot bill probably won't get passed. I'm more concerned with the person who used pyramid-scheme money to buy her way into the Cabinet. (Seriously, do you know ANYBODY who has ever bought an Amway product?)
Please know that I do not believe that Betsy DeVos should not be Secretary of Education because she's stupid (which she is). Lots and lots of stupid people of all political stripes have been in government over the years. Some, free from the bonds of having to think deep thoughts, have actually enjoyed a little success. In fact, I'm not even all that worked up about DeVos pushing the same old tired (and racism-tinged) school vouchers.
What really worries me about her is that talks a lot about a country that is determined by "values" and not by laws. And you can just guess whose values she's talking about.
Twenty years ago, I read a book called "The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud and the Attack on America's Public Schools." In it, author David C. Berliner asked, "What would happen, for example, if, as some Far Right critics urge, the federal and state governments gave up all support for education and control over the public schools were 'returned' to parents and local communities?"
Berliner concluded that it would be chaos, resulting in community-run schools with curriculums based on religious beliefs rather than on educational standards. (DeVos has said that such an abomination would be fine with her.)
Berliner concluded that "American society and industry do not need a population that is ignorant of scientific knowledge." Yeah, especially when the Education Secretary and the head of the EPA are already there.