Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Silent Covenants: Brown V. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform” as Want to Read:
Silent Covenants: Brown V. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  86 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
When the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education was handed down in 1954, many civil rights advocates believed that the decision, which declared public school segregation unconstitutional, would become the Holy Grail of racial justice. Fifty years later, despite its legal irrelevance and the racially separate and educationally ineffective state of publi ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Silent Covenants, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Silent Covenants

The Color Purple by Alice WalkerTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale HurstonThe Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm XBeloved by Toni MorrisonInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Best African American Books
488th out of 591 books — 743 voters
Beloved by Toni MorrisonThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerThe Master's Plan by Stephany TullisKindred by Octavia E. ButlerPush by Sapphire
Books by Black Authors
182nd out of 300 books — 122 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 214)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
'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
Apr 21, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: skewl
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 really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
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
Aug 30, 2012 Jacqueline Roebuck rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2008 Tracy Burnett rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2013 Abby Jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: phd-yr-1, 2013
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.
Nov 28, 2008 jim rated it really liked it
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 it was amazing  ·  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.
Jordan Johnson
Jordan Johnson marked it as to-read
Feb 04, 2016
Arlo Ryan-Keohane
Arlo Ryan-Keohane marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2016
Betsy marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2016
Richard rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2016
Patricia West
Patricia West is currently reading it
Jan 05, 2016
Sam rated it really liked it
Dec 23, 2015
Kobie Colemon
Kobie Colemon marked it as to-read
Dec 14, 2015
Elizabeth A Driskill
Elizabeth A Driskill marked it as to-read
Nov 29, 2015
Brandy Adams
Brandy Adams rated it it was amazing
Nov 24, 2015
Bethia rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2015
Nora Devlin
Nora Devlin is currently reading it
Oct 27, 2015
Jymyaka Braden
Jymyaka Braden marked it as to-read
Oct 25, 2015
Hannah rated it really liked it
Oct 10, 2015
Stephanie marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2015
andrew added it
Sep 14, 2015
Kiersten Terry
Kiersten Terry marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2015
Amar Baines
Amar Baines marked it as to-read
Sep 01, 2015
Emily Elkins
Emily Elkins rated it liked it
Nov 28, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970
  • Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal
  • Love and Theft
  • Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement
  • There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975
  • White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race
  • Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America
  • The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches By Malcolm X
  • Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project
  • The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education
  • The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy
  • Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan
  • Sorority Sisters
  • The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861
  • Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage
  • More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States
  • Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society (8th Edition)
  • City on Fire: The Forgotten Disaster That Devastated a Town and Ignited a Landmark Legal Battle
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...

Share This Book