Experts claim that the resistance against the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision resulted in the removal of Black male educators.

The landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, which brought an end to racial segregation in public schools in America, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this week. This monumental milestone is being recognized as a significant stride forward for the civil rights movement.

However, what is not widely known is the devastating effect the landmark case had on African American male educators.

Education experts who spoke with ABC News highlighted that the decision to remove them from the profession had a direct impact, particularly on Black men who were educators during the pre-Brown era.

According to Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick, author of “Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership,” the Black male educator shortage can be traced back to the era of massive resistance against the Brown decision. Dr. Fenwick emphasizes that this shortage goes beyond just a teacher shortage, but also includes a shortage of Black male educators. She points out that this shortage is a result of the purge of Black male principals and teachers that occurred during that time, and its effects are still being felt today.

According to Fenwick, white segregationist politicians implemented a southern strategy to exacerbate the issue of the Black male teacher crisis. The professor of education policy states that these white leaders were apprehensive about the integration of Black educators, including superintendents, principals, and teachers, as they believed it would diminish their authority over education policy and funding. Fenwick asserts that the impact of this strategy can still be felt in today’s education system, likening it to an explosive and long-lasting reaction.

“It was a massive resistance,” she said, emphasizing that it nearly decimated the Black educator pipeline.

“We are not disconnected from history. The consequences of the atomic bomb continue to shape our lives, and it is crucial to address and discuss these consequences if we are to find a solution,” Fenwick emphasized during an interview with ABC News.

Unfortunately, a solution to the problem of rehiring Black male educators has yet to be found even after several decades.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ National Teacher and Principal Survey in 2020, only 1.3% of public school teachers were identified as Black men. This data pertains to the most recent year for which information is available. Additionally, Black men make up approximately 3% of the nation’s principals.

ABC News has extensively covered the lack of representation of the Black male experience in education. In conversations with administrators, heads of schools, instructional coaches, principals, and teachers, Black male educators have expressed their feelings of being stretched thin, overworked, and undervalued, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curtis Valentine, an education advocate from the Progressive Policy Institute, is actively involved in the recruitment of Black male teachers. He is a key figure behind Real Men Teach, a national campaign that aims to redefine the role of a teacher. Established during the pandemic, this initiative not only seeks to attract more Black men to the teaching profession but also provides financial support to ensure their continued presence in classrooms.

Valentine expressed his admiration for the work being done by Real Men Teach in reshaping the teaching profession. He emphasized the importance of looking at the profession through their own perspectives and voices, as it empowers them to redefine the role of Black male teachers and reclaim their identities in educational spaces.

Valentine highlighted the efforts of various organizations, including Real Men Teach, the Center for Black Educator Development, and Black Male Educators Talk, in addressing the shortage of Black teachers. However, according to Valentine, the most significant source of Black teachers lies within Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

According to Valentine, HBCUs have made significant contributions in supporting Black achievement, leading to over 50% of all Black teachers in the country being graduates of HBCUs.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to this matter. It’s simply about investing in what’s already successful,” he emphasized.

HBCUs have faced chronic underfunding since their establishment, as highlighted by Dr. Ivory Toldson from Howard University. Moreover, Toldson emphasizes that inclusive public education initiatives have consistently been thwarted by white racism, much like the aftermath of the Brown decision.

According to Toldson, education has faced significant resistance from the white community. He believes that it is one of the systems where there has been the most active resistance.

According to Fenwick, she believes that in order to address the Black male educator crisis, it is essential to provide federal grants to HBCU education departments. She emphasizes that this support would enable more Black men to pursue careers in education. Fenwick argues that HBCUs have a proven history of successfully preparing Black individuals for various professions, including teaching, and therefore, they deserve increased investment. Fenwick suggests that the grant funding should be directed towards student scholarships and the expansion of faculties in schools and colleges of education.

The Augustus F. Hawkins Program at the White House has recently started providing grants for teacher training programs at HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. This initiative comes after a period of several years without any funding for such programs.

Seventy years have passed since the Brown decision, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has highlighted the Hawkins program as a crucial initiative for promoting teacher diversity. In an interview with ABC News, Cardona emphasized the ongoing need for intentional efforts to enhance the representation of diverse educators in the field.

According to Cardona, it is important to remind Americans of the valuable contributions that Black teachers bring not only to Black students but to all students.

According to experts, there is no need to modify the desegregation decision in order to bring back Black male educators to schools. Fenwick emphasized that the fault does not lie with the Brown case. In fact, the legal argument was crafted by Black men, including Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and James Nabrit Jr.

According to Fenwick, the genius of the Black men who devised the strategy to bring our nation closer to embodying American ideals, as outlined in the Constitution, was not the problem.

According to Fenwick, the decision was heavily impacted by a significant and well-coordinated opposition, which severely hindered its implementation.

According to her, the failure of everything that Brown aimed to achieve was a direct consequence of the widespread opposition that persisted until the late 1970s.

Over the years, despite facing numerous challenges and a shortage of educators, Black men have emerged as prominent figures in the teaching profession. Their exceptional contributions have been acknowledged through various accolades, including being named finalists or recipients of the prestigious National Teacher of the Year award.

Texas educator Eric Hale, who was awarded the prestigious title of Texas’s first Black male teacher of the year by the Council of Chief State School Officers, has shed light on the challenges he faces in his role. In an interview with ABC News, Hale expressed his concern regarding the lack of representation for Black students in school leadership positions. He emphasized that this disparity is unfair and needs to be addressed.

According to Hale, it is crucial for individuals to witness individuals who resemble them in influential roles, and there is no more prominent role than that of an educator.

Hale believes that young students should not have to wait to encounter Black male teachers.

According to the speaker, instead of potentially being the first Black man someone has ever interacted with, he could be the third, fourth, fifth, or even the tenth Black man that they have formed a positive bond with. He believes that being a Black man who can provide valuable knowledge and guidance for their future is significant.

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MBS Staff
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