Four Black mothers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Mississippi’s elected leaders and state education officials, alleging that they oversee an education system that discriminates against Black students, CBS News reports.
Mississippi violates a 19th century federal law that allowed the state to rejoin the union after the Civil War, the suit alleges. The law prohibits Mississippi from depriving its citizens of the “school rights and privileges” guaranteed in the state’s constitution.
“From 1890 until the present day, Mississippi repeatedly has amended its education clause and has used those amendments to systematically and deliberately deprive African Americans of the education rights guaranteed to all Mississippi schoolchildren by the 1868 Constitution,” argues the lawsuit, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on behalf of the mothers.
According to the SPLC, the law mandates a “uniform system of free public schools” for all children.
The mothers, who have children attending public school, say Mississippi deprives their children of an equal education because they are Black and stuck in failing schools.
Indeed, all 19 of Mississippi’s failing school districts are predominantly Black, while high-performing school districts across the state are predominantly White, notes the SPLC, which blames part of the problem on unequal school funding.
Failing Black schools “lack textbooks, literature, basic supplies, experienced teachers, sports and other extracurricular activities, tutoring programs, and even toilet paper,” according to the civil rights organization.
The list of defendants includes Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, House Speaker Philip Gunn, all Republican elected officials, state school Superintendent Carey Wright and the nine state Board of Education members, CBS News reported.
SOURCE: CBS News