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Families & Community

Outtakes: How race shapes Detroit

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For a few months now, I've been working on a series about the end of the neighborhood school as most people know it in Detroit . The stories will air next week. 

My question going into this work was how much a failed plan to racially integrate Detroit's schools contributed to changes in the educational landscape. I came away thinking the impact of that case was profound, but in many ways I didn't expect.

There was so much to delve into. The echoes of that failure on issues like class, demographic shifts, and education reform were so apparent that the issue of race did not figure as centrally in many of my stories as I thought it would. 

But the busing case, Milliken v. Bradley, was all about race. While a lot of personal opposition to busing was not all about race, much of the politics at the state and national level was. Race remains an issue in Detroit education today. And although it is only one of many, it is more likely to be geography and poverty that consign a child to poorer educational options. 

So before this series runs I wanted to share a recollection I collected to put the series in its historical context. Detroit resident Abby Phelps talks about how central race was and still is to her experience of the busing controversy.

Visit our website dedicated to the first-hand accounts and news reports from this highly divisive, but critical moment in Detroit Public School history.