Transforming the Elite

Black Students and the Desegregation of Private Schools

By Michelle A. Purdy

258 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, 1 map, 3 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4349-6
    Published: September 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4348-9
    Published: September 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4350-2
    Published: August 2018

Paperback Available September 2018, but pre-order your copy today!

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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 history.

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.

About the Author

Michelle A. Purdy is assistant professor of education and affiliate faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies and the Center on Urban Research and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis. She is co-editor of Using Past as Prologue: Contemporary Perspectives on African American Educational History.
For more information about Michelle A. Purdy, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the education experiences of African American students in the second half of the twentieth century, the history of desegregation in the South, and the history of private schooling.  Michelle Purdy shows us the ways in which the first black students to desegregate schools like Westminster both changed and were changed by the social and political culture of white private schools."--Jonna Perrillo, University of Texas at El Paso

"With rich, in-depth analysis, a mastery of black educational history, and empathetic storytelling, Transforming the Elite has the potential to spark discussion about a range of issues relevant to black educational history and contemporary debates over race and equality."--Hilary Moss, Amherst College