Published: Jan 12 2022
Size: 6 x 9
Pages: 296
Illustrations: 22 b&w halftones, 3 maps
HARDCOVER: 978-1-64336-259-5
EBOOK: 978-1-64336-260-1

Civil Rights
Memoir & Biography
South Carolina History & Culture
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Struggling to Learn

An Intimate History of School Desegregation in South Carolina

June Manning Thomas





In 1964 June Manning Thomas became one of the first thirteen Black students to desegregate Orangeburg High School in South Carolina. This extraordinary experience shaped her life and spurred in her a passion to understand racism and its effect on education in the Black community. In Struggling to Learn, Thomas details the personal trauma she and her Black classmates experienced during desegregation, the great difficulties Black communities have faced gaining access to K-12 and higher education, and the social and political tools Black southerners used to combat segregation and claim belonging.

Combining meticulous research and poignant personal narrative, this provocative true story reveals the long and painful struggle for equal education in the Jim Crow South. Thomas articulates why Black communities persisted in their pursuit of school desegregation despite the hostility and unfulfilled promises along the way. This is a story of constructive resilience—the fighting spirit of an oppressed people to ensure a better life for themselves and their children.

June Manning Thomas is the Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

"This book tells a fascinating, powerful story about race, education, and civil rights in South Carolina that illuminates contemporary American predicaments. Combining memoir and history, June Manning Thomas shows how segregation has affected Black people educationally, socially, and emotionally. This examination of the past casts useful light on the moral and political conditions for moving our society toward a more democratic future."—Howell Baum, author of Brown and Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism

"By telling her story in the larger context of Southern Racism, vitriolic resistance for anything challenging the status quo, and the structural assault on human and familial dignity and integrity, Dr. Thomas sets up the heroic story of the battle against these forces, and the deep wounds and traumas that still call out to be healed."—Hoda Mahmoudi, The Bahá'í Chair for World Peace, University of Maryland

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