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Podcast Highlights Black and Brown Students’ Experiences During NYC Desegregation  

Theresa Canada, Ed.D., host of “The Silk Stocking Sisters Podcast”

Seventy years ago, the course of education in the United States changed forever with the historic passing of Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark decision that determined that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools were unlawful. 

AACTE member and researcher Theresa Canada, Ed.D.,  who received an education during the 1960s desegregation efforts in New York City, recounted this experience through the lens of her and six other Black and brown girls in a recent podcast series. 

Canada, a professor in the Education and Educational Psychology Department at Western Connecticut State University, and host of “The Silk Stocking Sisters Podcast,” was a student at P.S. 6, the Lillie Devereaux Blake School, (PS 6), which is nestled on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City and was one of the first schools in the city to launch desegregation efforts. Now documenting her memories of the school through the podcast, Canada explores the historical legacies of the shared experiences of PS 6 alumni and what it demonstrated for the desegregation movement in the northern United States. 

“The goal of this podcast is to share stories and experiences, both historical and related to school integration, desegregation, and busing in the north,” Canada said. “It will also include psychological, legal, socio-economic, racial, and ethnic issues.”  

Canada illuminated the culmination of her research and the implications her first-hand experiences would have on the history of public education in the country today in the following Q&A. 

Can you share personal experiences or connections you have with the desegregation movement in New York City? 

“The Silk Stocking Sisters Podcast” is an extension of topics and related issues to those discussed in my book, Desegregation of the New York City Schools: A Story of The Silk Stocking Sisters. My book discusses the experiences of seven Black and brown girls who were part of a desegregation effort at PS 6, an elite public school in New York City. I am one of the girls highlighted in the book. 

How do you contextualize the desegregation of PS 6 within the broader historical landscape of civil rights movements in the United States during that era?  

PS 6 was and still is an elite public school within the New York City Department of Education. The initial research prompted me to learn more about the school desegregation efforts in New York City as a whole. Yet, PS 6 was not listed as one of the schools that the NYC Board of Education (which was the term used at the time) included in its desegregation plan. I learned that PS 6 chose to select the students who would be attending based on racial/ethnic backgrounds. The civil rights movement focused more on the efforts in the southern part of the country. New York City’s efforts focused on the housing patterns, which required different approaches for school desegregation efforts. 

Beyond the social implications, what were some of the educational outcomes of the desegregation process at PS 6, both positive and negative? 

The year after I entered PS 6, the NYC Board of Education instituted a more expansive busing plan. This entailed providing yellow school buses to transport students from other areas of the city to support desegregated school efforts. I, along with other students, took NYC public buses to and from school. This was the way most students who lived beyond 10 blocks from a school traveled to school. 

The education received at PS 6 was exceptional. Most of the students who graduated from PS 6 became high-level professionals. The negative aspect of the educational experience at PS 6 was the lack of Black and brown teachers and administrators. 

Looking back, how do you think the desegregation of PS 6 has influenced subsequent generations of students and educators in New York City, and what does that tell us about the state of PK-12 education today? 

The desegregation of PS 6 was a unique experience and “experiment” for those of us who attended prior to the expansion of “busing.” Few people were aware of the experiences that I and other children had at PS 6, hence the purpose for writing the book. Many asked why Black and brown males were not included (in the book). Well, there were so few who attended and graduated from PS 6. 

Unfortunately, NYC public schools are more racially and ethnically segregated now than during the mid-1960s. Much of that has to do with housing patterns and the overall demographics of NYC. The lack of Black and brown teachers at PS 6 then and now throughout the NYC area does not lead to any improvements in the education of all students in the NYC public schools. 

Can you share any memorable interviews or stories that stood out to you during the making of “Silk Stocking Sisters”?  

The podcast allows me to “educate” and share information about what took place in the 1960s and up until now. It also provides viewers/listeners with other experiences from those who were part of an integration/desegregation effort in the northern and midwestern parts of the United States. Many of the interviews cover legal, economic, policy, psychological, and other issues in education and early childhood education. There are also interviews with individuals who have written books about the related topics that have and currently take place in the northern and midwestern parts of the country. 

Beyond documenting the history of PS 6, what do you hope to achieve with “Silk Stocking Sisters” in terms of broader social impact or awareness? 

PS 6 was a unique experience; not a typical one by most accounts.  The experiences shared by the seven girls in the book are only a snippet of what parents were willing to do to provide a better education for their children. I want the audience who listens to the podcast to understand that all children deserve to have a quality education. This includes exposure to high levels of educational experiences, and equity in terms of learning experiences and opportunities. This also includes well-trained teachers of all backgrounds who believe in excellence for all students. If this occurs, our schools will be a welcoming environment for all children in this country. 





“The Silk Stockings Sisters Podcast,” is available to watch and listen to on YouTube. 

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