School Colors Ep. 1: Old School

Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is one of the most iconic historically Black neighborhoods in the United States. But Bed-Stuy is changing. Fifty years ago, schools in Bed-Stuy’s District 16 were so overcrowded that students went to school in shifts. Today, they’re half-empty. Why?

In trying to answer that question, we discovered that the biggest, oldest questions we have as a country about race, class, and power have been tested in the schools of Central Brooklyn for as long as there have been Black children here. And that’s a long, long time.

In this episode, we visit the site of a free Black settlement in Brooklyn founded in 1838; speak to one of the first Black principals in New York City; and find out why half a million students mobilized in support of school integration couldn’t force the Board of Education to produce a citywide plan.

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