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Tom Ultican, retired teacher of physics and advanced mathematics in California, just finished reading a book that he calls “a scholarly masterpiece.” The book-William Frantz Public School: A Story of Race, Resistance, Resilience and Recovery in New Orleans– is a history of the William Frantz Public School, which opened as an all-white public school in New Orleans in 1938. It is also a history of New Orleans that portrays the centrality of unvarnished, vicious racism in the city and state’s politics.
You may not know the name of the William Frantz Public School, but you may be familiar with the famous Norman Rockwell portrayal of six-year-old Ruby Bridges entering the school, guarded by federal agents. She was the first black student to enter a white school. It was 1960. A little more than three decades later, there was not a single white student in the school. African Americans were a majority in the schools and in the city. Most lived in grinding poverty.
The authors —Connie L. Schaffer, Meg White, and Martha Graham Viator —have written a vivid account of the ugly racism that brought out white protestors who harassed little Ruby Bridges and any white families who didn’t withdraw their children from the school. Egging them on were the state’s White Citizens Councils and its elected officials.
One need not be a partisan of “Critical Race Theory” to be appalled by the raw racism that inflamed New Orleans and other cities and blighted the lives of millions of our fellow citizens of African descent. This is not an opinion or a belief. It is well-documented and factual.