Literacy and Racial Justice: The Politics of Learning After Brown V. Board of Education

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-10-01
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois Univ Pr
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In anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of the landmarkBrown v.Board of Educationdecision, Catherine Prendergast draws on a combination of insights from legal studies and literacy studies to interrogate contemporary multicultural literacy initiatives, thus providing a sound historical basis that informs current debates over affirmative action, school vouchers, reparations, and high-stakes standardized testing. As a result ofBrownand subsequent crucial civil rights court cases, literacy and racial justice are firmly enmeshed in the American imaginationso much so that it is difficult to discuss one without referencing the other. Breaking with the accepted wisdom that theBrowndecision was an unambiguous victory for the betterment of race relations,Literacy and Racial Justice: The Politics of Learning afterBrown v. Board of Education finds that the ruling reinforced traditional conceptions of literacy as primarily white property to be controlled and disseminated by an empowered majority. Prendergast examines civil rights era Supreme Court rulings and immigration cases spanning a century of racial injustice to challenge the myth of assimilation through literacy. Advancing fromWays with Words,Shirley Brice Heath's landmark study of desegregated communities, Prendergast argues that it is a shared understanding of literacy as white property which continues to impact problematic classroom dynamics and education practices. To offer a positive model for reimagining literacy instruction that is truly in the service of racial justice, Prendergast presents a naturalistic study of an alternative public secondary school. Outlining new directions and priorities for inclusive literacy scholarship in America,Literacy and Racial Justiceconcludes that a literate citizen is one who can engage rather than overlook longstanding legacies of racial strife.

Author Biography

Catherine Prendergast is an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Educational Review, Written Communication, CCC, and JAC; and she is the recipient of the 1999 CCCC Richard Braddock Award for her article, “Race: The Absent Presence in Composition Studies.”

Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Gloria Ladson-Billings
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction: The Tangled History of Literacy and Racial Justice 1(15)
The Economy of Literacy: How the Supreme Court Stalled the Civil Rights Movement
Bakke's Legacy: The New Rhetoric of Racial Justice
Desegregation Comes to the Piedmont: Locating Ways with Words
Give Me Your Literate: Literacy and the American Dream
Literacy and Racial Justice in Practice: High School X
Conclusion: The Politics of Learning after Brown 164(15)
Notes 179(10)
References 189(10)
Index 199

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