Masters Thesis

The cost of desegregation: busing, racism, and privilege in Fresno Unified School District

The 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education Topeka marked the beginning of desegregation in schools across the country. While the primary target of the court ruling was the South, school districts in the North and West also suffered from de facto segregation as a result of long standing housing discrimination. While the intent of Brown was to create a more equitable society, the implementation of these policies revealed that Civil Rights legislation would only go as far as the majority community allowed it. In the case of Fresno Unified School District, efforts toward desegregation were only pushed forward in ways that would not require extensive sacrifice on behalf of the White, ruling community. This thesis argues that desegregation was ultimately unsuccessful in providing educational equality to the Black community because as schools closed in Black neighborhoods and were replaced by new magnet schools, White and affluent children from wealthier neighborhoods were bussed in to receive a superior education while local neighborhood kids found themselves either unable to attend the schools in their own neighborhood, or were tracked into lower level classes and programs.