In Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger, the veteran journalist Justin Murphy makes the compelling argument that the educational disparities in Rochester, New York, are the result of historical and present-day racial segregation. Education reform alone will never be the full solution; to resolve racial inequity, cities such as Rochester must first dismantle segregation.Drawing on never-before-seen archival documents as well as scores of new interviews, Murphy shows how discriminatory public policy and personal prejudice combined to create the racially segregated education system that exists in the Rochester area today. Alongside this dismal history, Murphy recounts the courageous fight for integration and equality, from the advocacy of Frederick Douglass in the 1850s to a countywide student coalition inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the 2010s. This grinding antagonism, featuring numerous failed efforts to uphold the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, underlines that desegregation and integration offer the greatest opportunity to improve educational and economic outcomes for children of color in the United States. To date, that opportunity has been lost in Rochester, and persistent poor academic outcomes have been one terrible result. Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger is a history of Rochester with clear relevance for today. The struggle for equity in Rochester, like in many northern cities, shows how the burden of history lies on the present. A better future for these cities requires grappling with their troubled pasts. Murphy's account is a necessary contribution to twenty-first-century Rochester.
About the Author
Justin Murphy is the education reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMurphy.