Decades after Brown decision, Va. still grappling with school segregation

Decades after Brown decision, Va. still grappling with school segregation
Jenny Aghomo and her daughter, Ama, sit outside John B. Cary Elementary in Richmond. Ama will be entering fourth grade this year. (Source: Mechelle Hankerson/The Virginia Mercury)

Jenny Aghomo was excited about the new teachers and friends her daughter would meet if the majority-black school she attended in Richmond merged with a nearby majority-white school as part of a plan to increase the diversity of both student bodies.

Then Aghomo heard what some parents from that majority-white school, Fox Elementary, were saying about the proposal.

“Knowing what I know now, attitudes would have to change because you don’t want your kids to go somewhere they’re not really welcome,” Aghomo said.

A vocal contingent of Fox parents said they supported diversity but practical concerns made the proposal less palatable. Some lamented they’d no longer be able to walk their kids to school. Others worried their property values would drop.

The response, which Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras said “sounded eerily like Massive Resistance 2.0,” is just one example of how plans to better integrate Virginia’s remaining segregated schools and systems still face pushback 65 years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown V. Board of Education decision.

“A lot of folks are good with diversity in principle, or maybe they’re good with a little diversity,” Kamras said. “But in reality, when it hits a certain threshold, things suddenly change.”

The Virginia Mercury is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.