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Silent Covenants: Brown V. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Presents the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education. This book states that the Brown decision actually enraged and energized its opponents. It also states that racial policy is made through silent covenants, unspoken convergences of interest, that ensure that policies conform to priorities set by policy-makers.
Paperback, 230 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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'Silent Covenants' begins with the all-too-acceptable scene of a graduation crowd applauding the decision Brown v. Board of Education as a, if not the, milestone in breaking down legitimized racial segregation.

Unfortunately, as Bell articulately suggests, the decision may in fact be not only more symbolic than substantive but may also have rippling effects that have worsened, or at least obscured, the efforts of the civil rights activists who fought so hard for this 'victory.'

A major argument pu
This book gives a great overview of the seminal court cases leading up to Brown, and paints a grim picture for how far we haven't come since the ruling. Morever, Bell provides a compelling argument for the fact that the Supreme Court's decision was influenced not by an interest in civil rights for people of color, but by interest convergence and the socio-political context of the time. He walks back his integrationist stance from years prior when he worked as a lawyer in conjunction with the NAA ...more
Dennis Fischman
Apr 25, 2010 Dennis Fischman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who believe in freedom
Shelves: nonfiction
"Rule 1. The interest of blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when that interest converges with the interests of whites in policy-making positions. This convergence is far more important for gaining relief than the degree of harm suffered by blacks or the character of proof offered to prove that harm."

"Rule 2. Even when interest-convergence results in an effective racial remedy, that remedy will be abrogated at the point that policymakers fear the remedial policy is thre
The Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)set the pace for educational reform as it declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Bell, a hands on participant in school segregation cases during the 60s, shatters the image of the Supreme Court ruling. Instead, he defends the theory and appropriateness of enforcing the "equal" component of the "separate but equal" standard and the effects that would have had on moving towards racial justice.

An interesting approach tha
Jacqueline Roebuck
A qualitative masterpiece. Bell takes his readers on a journey up through Brown and beyond providing some jewels along the way. He takes us behind the scenes when critical social justice and legal decisions were made, along with sociopolitical insights that drove those decisions.
Tracy Burnett
I am a little biased in giving this book 5 stars because I am mentioned in the acknowledgements (shout out from my professor/employer Derrick Bell). My self interest aside, I'd still highly recommend this book because of its fascinating reflections on modern civil rights and post-Brown jurisprudence from a man who once worked as a prominent civil rights attorney along side Thurgood Marshall. His conclusions may surprise many but Prof Bell has always been on the edge (which is why I love him!).
Abby Jean
great exploration of the failures of brown v board. would have been five stars except 1) his alternative decision in brown was uncompelling and suffered from many of the flaws he identified with the actual decisions and 2) his limited focus of white v black, rather than white v black, latino, asian, native american, etc.
Harsh critique of what was accomplished in Brown v. Board but from a voice that can not and should not be ignored.
Liz Maas
May 10, 2013 Liz Maas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Liz by: Prof Joshua Dunn
This book literally changed my life and way of thinking about the legacy of education litigation in America.
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Derrick A. Bell Jr. is a Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and a legal scholar and activist in critical race theory.
More about Derrick A. Bell...
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