Blacks are getting inferior educations nationwide, four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional, NAACP chief Benjamin Chavis said Saturday.
"There isn't a school district in America that is treating our children fairly," he said.Chavis marked the 40th anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education ruling in the small town that once forced out blacks who fought for desegregation.
The 1954 ruling was the result of four lawsuits, including Briggs vs. Elliott filed by residents of Summerton, about 50 miles southeast of Columbia, the state capital.
Board members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, holding an annual meeting in South Carolina, ate breakfast with some of the people who brought the case.
They met in the dilapidated gymnasium of Scott's Branch High School, which has 565 black students and just two whites. The school district, Clarendon 1, has the lowest percentage of white students and one of the two worst academic reputations in South Carolina.
"The educational dilemma in this county is a direct result of the history of this struggle," Chavis said. "It goes to the heart of whether . . . we're going to allow a system where private schools or people that have the economic wherewithal will isolate themselves from the rest of the public and only educate a few at the expense of many."
After the local case was argued by NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, Sum-merton's white business owners fired blacks who were members of the civil rights organization. Many blacks who relied on whites for credit or loaned farm equipment were unable to earn a living and moved away.