The healing of progressivist America: The premises of school desegregation within U.S. Civil religion

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Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, ISSN: 1468-5906, Vol: 35, Issue: 3, Page: 304-317

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Donald R. Lamagdeleine
JSTOR; UST Research Online
Arts and Humanities; Public schools; Progressivism; Religious rituals; African American culture; African Americans; Healing; School desegregation; Myths; Black people; Education; Educational Administration and Supervision; Educational Leadership; Leadership Studies
article description
Durkheimian theory posits a thin line between civil religion and public education. Indeed, Durkheim thought the two were intimately related in modern societies. This article examines the premises of school desegregation as a healing ritual meant to cure the evils wrought by U.S. apartheid. Within the logic of Progressive Education, the idea was to ritually integrate the schools as a miniature melting pot. Operating both symbolically and as a social change agent, the cure would heal America. Meanwhile the policy's assimilationist assumptions discounted U.S. black culture as championed by W.E.B. DuBois. Research on its mixed effects and a new call for multiculturalism have undermined the Progressivist premises of desegregation. Public education's current confused state mirrors larger patterns of mythic struggle within U.S. society. © Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1996.