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Let me say from the first that I'm proud of Daily Kos.  Proud that more than one point of view can be expressed in a civil manner.

I'm referring to this diary: "Even if Mark Ficken didn't egg the crowd on...."

The two points of view relate to the question of whether this man should lose his job as Superintendent of Schools over his role as MC at the Missouri State Fair rodeo (that featured the "Obama clown" who has himself now been banned from the Fair), or whether the action (or inaction -- See: "The Ox-Bow Incident") should be punished "with a slap on the wrist," after which we all should "move on."  I can see both sides, but I've been recommending diary comments in favor of the former choice.  And that's largely because of my perspective as a Show-Me resident in the not-too-distant past.  To explain, I have to create my own diary.

I'm sorry that Al Gore has already grabbed the line, "an inconvenient truth," because I think it could have otherwise have been the perfect tag-line for conveying how I see racism in Missouri.  So I'll just tip my hat to Al and say that the issue came up a few years ago in a Federal court ruling for a desegregation remedy to be applied to the large urban public school systems of St. Louis and Kansas City.

Others may have a much better grasp of the nature of this ruling, and of the reaction to it.  I merely wish to offer my perspective.  And it is not an insignificant detail that both the aftermath of the Missouri State Fair incident and the background behind the court's desegregation ruling have to do with public schools in the State of Missouri.

As my memory serves, the court case arose because plaintiffs in Kansas City and St. Louis were seeking some redress from continuing de facto segregation that isolated the urban districts and left them substantially underfunded.  I welcome any expansion on this by other Kossacks.  What I do recall is that one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs was Arthur Benson, from Kansas City.  I heard him speak more than once on the reason for the suit naming the State of Missouri as defendant.

His story dates back to the Supreme Court's finding in Plessy v. Ferguson that different treatment of blacks and whites was constitutional so long as issues were to be decided in a "separate but equal" manner.  That case had arisen in the South, not in Missouri, but the State was only too happy to apply the ruling with a vengeance.  The State of Missouri quickly made it known that it would police local arrangements to the letter of the law/ruling, such that segregation would continue but that unequal systems would be dealt with harshly.

What did this mean?  In effect, it meant that there would no longer be secondary education available for blacks in rural Missouri.  Here one should know that blacks in substantial numbers lived at the turn of the century in outstate Missouri.  An example cited by Benson in Kansas City was the now-suburb of Lee's Summit.  This town's major employer was a railroad that repaired its damaged rail cars in a shop there which employed many skilled labor employees such as carpenters -- many of them blacks.

When the State of Missouri announced its interpretation of Plessy, the Lee's Summit school district (and many much smaller) were faced with the prospect of double taxation to support "separate but equal" school facilities for blacks and whites.  One-room school houses teaching the Three R's through eighth grade were perhaps one thing, but high schools were expensive by comparison and certainly most local populations weren't about to support two of them where one had sufficed before.  Guess who lost out in this?

If you didn't answer "Everybody," then you're only half right.  Because the ultimate effect of all this was that middle-class blacks in Lee's Summit were not about to see their children deprived of a full education, and so families moved to Kansas City.  ...where racism there created a ghetto east of Troost by virtue of real estate restrictive covenants, realtor-based "steering," etc., etc.  Of course rural blacks followed in the course of time, such that rural Missouri is (or has been) pretty much 100% white in recent decades.

That was the situation leading up to the "school deseg" case.  And for a remedy the plaintiffs sought to construct a plan for what an ideal solution might entail.  Two educators, one from the U. of Missouri branch campus in Kansas City and one from Harvard, set about designing something that -- after the inevitable cutbacks in the budget -- would still serve to create a school system that would be attractive enough to support voluntary desegregation.  "Voluntary" because white families would find what was on offer attractive enough to want their children to have the option to cross district lines and enroll.

The "Magnet Plan" that these two educators produced via their "pink report" (named for the color of the pages upon which it was printed) was a Cadillac of plans, no question!  It had every bell and whistle imaginable, because of course it was fully expected that large portions of this plan would be cut.  Except that they weren't.  The Federal judge (from Springfield, in the conservative southwest corner of the state, no less) accepted the plan as written.  AND, placed the State of Missouri on the hook to fund it!

Why the State, and not the metro area(s)?  Because the State had been complicit in setting up the segregation that resulted after the Plessy case -- whites in rural areas, blacks in urban ghettos.  And that was still the situation when the "deseg" decision came down.

Even non-Missouri Kossacks can readily imagine what then transpired.  Outstate Missouri quickly became enraged at the prospect of State revenues being used to rebuild the urban school districts that served mostly blacks.  The part about the State's role in setting up this mess was largely overlooked by State officials, the General Assembly, most newspapers, business leaders, and so on.  I should mention here that the current Governor was at that time the State's Attorney General, and he took the lead in fighting "deseg" costs.

One might have thought that there might have been substantial push-back from the cities, but it was true that some black leaders were seemingly more interested in the jobs and contracts that could be had than in the potential benefit to urban students of all races and backgrounds.  To their credit, I saw black parents accept whatever changes to their neighborhood elementary school might be coming, just so long as their kids would still be able to attend there (and not have to be bussed to another school).  Yes, the "Magnetization" of the schools was intended to draw in white students, and cabs were sent to pick them up in ones and twos if necessary.

So, yes, the resulting system was financially extravagant.  And that made it a sitting duck for all of the venom soon to be directed its way from Outstate.  What's so interesting to me is how this can be so easily channeled into racism by those who have so few occasions to encounter people of color in their daily lives.  But then, the Klan was no stranger to Missouri.  I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same.  Sigh!

And that's what comes to mind as we debate to proper outcome for a School Superintendent from Boonville, Missouri.  When is Missouri ever going to deal with its "inconvenient truth" ??  My personal opinion is that, when it finally does, the time to "move on" will have arrived.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wuod kwatch, FG, tuesdayschilde, etbnc

    "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

    by Zwenkau on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:07:05 PM PDT

  •  I dont know if I should be bothered/dismayed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zwenkau, Stude Dude

    With the increase in overt openly racist utterings / behavior of some public officials. Should I be thankful that at least we know whats in their "heart?"
    I am more bothered by those sneaky racists, the ones who deface public monuments like that of JRobinson in NY.

    This is just a sad state of affairs, maybe these overt racist acts are the last kicks of a dying horse/breed who are terrified that their kind are slowly but surely becoming extinct.

    •  and the only positive that can come of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tuesdayschilde

      the overt racists out in the open, is if we remember, and make them pay for it.

      If we don't remember, then there is nothing but the overt ugliness, with no positive at all.

      Ayn sucks. Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer.

      by Floyd Blue on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:32:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: "Becoming extinct" (0+ / 0-)

      I'm of two minds about the certainty of this.  My position as stated in my diary rests upon the sad thought that things haven't liberalized perceptibly in the course of a century and more, despite the New Deal, Great Society, and whatever safety nets remain intact to soothe those who would reduce every public policy issue to a Zero-Sum Game.  Yet on the other hand, just as "Gay Marriage" advanced once more people saw family members, neighbors and coworkers who were LGBT, I think that as more in our society move beyond the racial constructs of the decennial census we will see "race" become harder to convert to Us-versus-Them tribal politics.

      "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

      by Zwenkau on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:40:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Missouri Paradox (5+ / 0-)

    I have traveled to most parts of Missouri over the last 30+ years (several times to the state fair) except for its far Northeast corner. A quick bit of research confirmed what I already thought to be the truth. Outside of Kansas City and St. Louis there are  few black people in this state. Kansas City and St. Louis are also among the most rigidly segregated large cities in the Country. These two cities feature a central core of African American neighborhoods surrounded by a 50 mile ring of exclusively white suburbs, some of them quite affluent. Most of the white workforce actually is employed in the suburbs now, rarely making a visit into the city itself necessary. Most white people in Kansas City and St. Louis who grew up there are completely unfamiliar with most of the urban parts of their cities, some of which are surprisingly attractive, green and middle class. In Missouri, if you are a white person,  you rarely if ever have any interaction with a black person. If you see them at all, its through a passing car window on the interstate.  Having lived my entire adult life in Louisiana and after having traveled through much of the South, it always seems to me that white people in Missouri seem to think and behave much like white southerners except for the fact that most white southerners at some point in their lives, and often daily, have at least some true interaction with black people. White people in Missouri, do not share this background. That being the case the virulent, dixie style, old south (as opposed to yankee garden variety racism) hatred for african americans thrives in Missouri. Pre-civil war slavery in Missouri existed on a relatively small scale, not much larger than what was found in New Jersey. I just never could figure this state out. In some ways it really is quite unique. It defies categorization.

    •  You're exaggerating for effect, I hope. (0+ / 0-)

      As a resident of a yes, predominantly white St. Louis suburb, I question just about every sentence of your "analysis" which must be based on casual impression. Our neighborhood is in a red part of St. Louis county. Families move there for its schools. We are not an exclusively white neighborhood: I have white, black, biracial, Lebanese, Syrian, and Asian neighbors and we all get along just fine. My office in the suburbs has a diverse workforce. The city has thriving middle-class neighborhoods that blend of many cultures, in addition to an impoverished and ignored north side. I have true interaction with people from multiple cultures every day.

      Now, it's true that our state has its fair share of hicks, idiots, and the ignorant, but please don't paint us all with that brush.

      •  KC and St. Louis (0+ / 0-)

        I lived for 7 years in KC and spent a ton of time in St. Louis as well and visit both places every couple of years. Neither of them are hick towns. I like them both actually. They are not twin cities and they do have a different feel to them, although their suburbs are remarkably the same and both spill into neighboring states. I do find both metro areas though among the most rigidly racially segregated cities in the country, with a few exceptions. There are some very cool, more diverse,  inner city neighborhoods in both locations, some genuine, some gentrified, but they are both relatively small outposts and they make up a small percentage of the population.

  •  Ficken can no longer serve as school Supt. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Stude Dude

    How on this wide earth can Mark Ficken have any credibility as Boonville School Supt. after his actions at the State Fair rodeo?

    Ficken was not the clown on the field, but he used his microphone to whip up the crowd into a frenzy.  He should have called off the stunt and ended the incident.  Instead, he let this travesty go on for 15 "hilarious" minutes.

    Surely, the good people of Boonville MO can find a better superintendent.  

    •  Ficken is the correct spelling... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but I entered "Fickin" in the diary title and didn't catch the error in time to correct it before publication.  It took me a bit to recognize the source of my confusion, but as a genealogist I'm aware of a Ficklin family of Columbia and Trenton, and so the "i" crept in where it didn't belong.  Interestingly (or not), Professor Joseph Ficklin (1833-87) was once head of the Math Dept. at MU, and according to the Mexico Weekly Ledger he was known as the "Laplace of the West."  Not that I know what that would imply; is there a DK Math Community??

      "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

      by Zwenkau on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 02:34:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can still edit, if you wish (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zwenkau

        The URL would still have the original spelling, but otherwise you should be able to change the displayed title if you want.

        Thanks for the history lessons, both the diary and the comment.

        Cheers

        Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

        by etbnc on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 02:45:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          etbnc

          ...but nah, then my comment wouldn't make any sense.  Let's just say the diary has the "human touch" that we all desire.  As an alternative, I can say that I've now introduced "market differentiation" between the original diary and my own.  Buzzword double-speak, ya gotta love it!

          "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

          by Zwenkau on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 03:34:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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