MISSISSIPPI COUNTY FACES DESEGREGATION ORDER…. It’s 2010, and this is still a problem.

A federal judge Tuesday ordered a rural county in southwestern Mississippi to stop segregating its schools by grouping African American students into all-black classrooms and allowing white students to transfer to the county’s only majority-white school, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

The order, issued by Senior Judge Tom S. Lee of the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi, came after Justice Department civil rights division lawyers moved to enforce a 1970 desegregation case against the state and Walthall County.

“More than 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, it is unacceptable for school districts to act in a way that encourages or tolerates the resegregation of public schools,” said Thomas E. Perez, U.S. assistant attorney general in charge of the civil rights division, in a written statement. “We will take action so that school districts subject to federal desegregation orders comply with their obligation to eliminate vestiges of separate black and white schools.”

It’s a reminder that it’s good to have a functioning civil rights division in the Justice Department again.

It’s also worth noting that the country is still addressing setbacks when it comes to civil rights. As DougJ noted, the Mississippi matter comes on the heels of controversial Confederacy-related comments from two Southern Republican governors.

The arc of history may be long, and it may bend towards justice, but it’s not a straight line pointing in an encouraging direction.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.