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August 20, 2020 51 min

Chana Joffe-Walt searches the New York City Board of Education archives for more information about the School for International Studies, which was originally called I.S. 293.

In the process, she finds a folder of letters written in 1963 by mostly white families in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. They are asking for the board to change the proposed construction of the school to a site where it would be more likely to be racially integrated.

It’s less than a decade after Brown v. Board of Education, amid a growing civil rights movement, and the white parents writing letters are emphatic that they want an integrated school. They get their way and the school site changes — but after that, nothing else goes as planned.

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