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The Lost Black ScholarResurrecting Allison Davis in American Social Thought$
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David A. Varel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226534886

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226534916.001.0001

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From Brown v. Board to Head Start

From Brown v. Board to Head Start

(p.196) Chapter 9 From Brown v. Board to Head Start
The Lost Black Scholar

David A. Varel

University of Chicago Press

The ninth chapter traces Davis’s influence into the 1950s and 1960s, when his research continued to effect social change. In particular, Davis contributed to two historic liberal achievements within the twentieth-century United States: Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the federal Head Start program. First, Davis helped to lay the intellectual foundations for the abolition of segregation within the schools, allying with Kenneth Clark and other black intellectuals associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to make clear how segregation was unconstitutional, unwise, and damaging not only to black children but to the entire United States. Later, Davis allied with Benjamin Bloom and others to galvanize support for Head Start. The two men’s publication of Compensatory Education for Cultural Deprivation (1965) worked toward those ends. Finally, Davis’s work added depth to the superficial debates over the “culture of poverty” that raged in the 1960s, pointing to more sophisticated ways to understand poverty and culture. Yet too often Davis’s nuanced vision was marginalized within these debates, evident partly in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s failure to even include him among his list of black scholars who had studied black poverty.

Keywords:   Brown v. Board of Education, Head Start, Kenneth Clark, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Benjamin Bloom, Compensatory Education for Cultural Deprivation, culture of poverty, Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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