A lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of African American mothers with children in the Mississippi public elementary schools have asked a federal judge to intervene and force state leaders to comply with an 1870’s law. According to the law, Mississippi must never deprive any citizen of the “school rights and privileges” described in its 1868 constitution.
Currently, Mississippi is violating the federal law that enabled the state to rejoin the Union after the Civil War, a civil rights group alleged on Tuesday.
The law requires Mississippi to provide a “uniform system of free public schools,” for all children. However, since the Civil War, the state has continually watered down education protections, as part of what the lawsuit calls a white supremacist effort to prevent the education of blacks.
“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,” the suit states.
The lawsuit claims that their children are deprived because they are black and attend overwhelmingly black schools, and in districts that have been given an “F” rating. The parents say the state has an obligation to make the schools that black children attend equally to the schools that white children attend. All 19 Mississippi school districts with an F rating are predominately black, while the highest rated school districts are predominately white.
Plus the schools attended by the plaintiff’s children, “lack textbooks, literature, necessary supplies, experienced teachers, sports, tutoring programs, sports and extracurricular activities, and even toilet paper,” the SPLC said. This is the second Mississippi faces over school funding. Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove is representing 21 school districts demanding they pay pack amounts it has shorted districts under the public education funding.