When traditionally white public schools in the South became sites
of massive resistance in the wake of the Supreme Court's Brown
v. Board of Education
decision, numerous white students exited
the public system altogether, with parents choosing homeschooling
or private segregationist academies. But some historically white
elite private schools opted to desegregate. The black students
that attended these schools courageously navigated institutional
and interpersonal racism but ultimately emerged as upwardly mobile
leaders. Transforming the Elite
tells this story.
Focusing on the experiences of the first black students to
desegregate Atlanta's well-known The Westminster Schools and
national efforts to diversify private schools, Michelle A.
Purdy combines social history with policy analysis in a
dynamic narrative that expertly re-creates this overlooked
Through gripping oral histories and rich archival research, this
book showcases educational changes for black southerners during the
civil rights movement including the political tensions confronted,
struggles faced, and school cultures transformed during private
school desegregation. This history foreshadows contemporary
complexities at the heart of the black community's mixed feelings
about charter schools, school choice, and education reform.