From Obama's Generation
The Audacious Hope of More Racially Diverse Public Schools
As our new president settles into the Oval Office and rolls up his sleeves, much has been printed, blogged, and broadcast about the symbolic meaning of his presidency. Not only is he America’s first African-American president, but he is also the first president born in the 1960s—at the tail end of the baby boom and in the midst of the civil rights movement. While the pundits have made much of each of these firsts, few have considered how these two symbols—of race and generation—coincide with the legacy of this country’s struggle to desegregate its public schools.
Indeed, if the early baby boomers conjure up images of Woodstock and Vietnam War protests, President Barack Obama's later baby-boom cohort has, until now, been less visible and well-defined. Most reports of this mid-40s to mid-50s generation portray an apathetic and cynical group that was too young to partake of the heady 1960s, and thus reflects the disillusionment of the 1970s.
But recent research on Mr. Obama's peers suggests a different picture. Because they entered elementary school at the advent of school desegregation and were more likely to attend racially diverse schools than any generation before them, those born in the late 1950s and early 1960s have a potential for leadership in a multiracial, multi-ethnic, and global society that is far...
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