Birney Elementary School looms over the Anacostia Metro stop, casting a shadow on the Barry Farm neighborhood. The metal cages and bars on the windows give the school the appearance of a prison. Inside, the sweltering heat suffocates. Children run amok up and down the hallways screaming and shouting; for teachers, the environment could not be less appealing.
Not a single white face dots the sea of black children. Painted on the auditorium’s walls, the faces of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Junior serve as a reminder of how far the African-American community has come in its struggle for equality. But 55 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, and just months after the election of Barack Obama vindicated hundreds of years fighting against injustice, the pinnacles of African-American pride painted on the walls of Birney Elementary are still looking down in despair. In Washington D.C. public schools, African-Americans remain the victims of a long history of segregation. Today, integration has yet to be achieved.