In Eight States, Public Schools Are Named for SegregationistsBreaking News
tags: education, segregation, Confederacy, monuments
About a two-hour drive south of Atlanta, in the city of Warner Robins, there's an elementary school named for Richard B. Russell, Georgia's longtime and powerful U.S. senator who died in 1971.
In a 1936 re-election campaign for the Senate, Russell, a Democrat, called America "a white man's country," and stressed his willingness to make sacrifices to "preserve and insure white supremacy." Two decades later, he made his opposition to the racial desegregation of schools very public. And in 1964, he criticized the Civil Rights Act for overturning the separate-but-equal model in the South that aimed to solve "the problem of two races living side by side without eventual amalgamation and mongrelization of both."
As of two years ago, according to the most recent federal data, four out of 10 students at the school memorializing him were black.
If you drive roughly 400 miles west of Warner Robins, you'll reach Vardaman High School in Vardaman, Miss. Both the school—where about 13 percent of the students are black—and the town are named after James K. Vardaman, a Mississippi governor and U.S. senator in the early 20th century. He once declared in a speech that, if necessary, "Every Negro in the state will be lynched" in order to maintain white supremacy. And on the subject of educating black children, Vardaman stated, "The only effect of Negro education is to spoil a good field hand and make an insolent cook."
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