Protesters outside a Howard County government building in Ellicott City, Maryland, on September 26, 2019. The group opposed a school redistricting plan that would force some lower-income students to be relocated to more affluent schools.

How 'good White people' derail racial progress

Updated 5:03 PM ET, Sun August 2, 2020

(CNN)It was a scene that seemed like it came from another era.

Angry White parents gripping picket signs. People making death threats and a piece of hate mail reading "Blacks destroy school systems." Community panic about school desegregation orders.
But this wasn't archival footage of White Southerners from the 1960s. This took place last year in Howard County, Maryland, a suburban community that prides itself on racial integration. It was there that progressive White parents mobilized with other groups to try to stop a school integration plan that would bus poor students, who were mostly Black and brown, to more affluent, whiter schools.
Willie Flowers, the father of two eighth-grade boys in Howard County schools, was stunned by the ferocity of the resistance. He says it was a flashback to the type of racism he encountered attending schools with Whites in the South.
"I'm from Alabama and I thought I was escaping that type of nonsense," says Flowers, who is president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. "There have been cases of Confederate flags at high school football games, racial epitaphs."
In 2020, White support for the Black Lives Matter movement is at an all-time high. People are buying so many books on antiracism that booksellers are having trouble keeping them in stock. A commentator said the George Floyd protests that erupted this spring may lead to "audacious steps to address systemic racial inequality — bold, sweeping reparative action."