Desegregation remains an issue in many US schools

As Democratic presidential candidates debate the federal government's role racially integrating public schools, federal intervention and court-ordered desegregation live on in one Mississippi Delta town

CLEVELAND, Miss. -- The small Mississippi Delta town of Cleveland serves as a reminder that fierce debates over the integration of black and white students are not a thing of the past.

Two rival high schools in Cleveland had to be merged just two years ago after a judge determined that all-black student bodies in the town of 12,000 people were illegal vestiges of segregation. It is one of scores of school districts around the U.S. still facing federal desegregation mandates.

The federal government's role in integrating schools came into the national spotlight following an exchange during the Democratic presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris. The former vice president was attacked for his work in the 1970s to oppose federally-ordered busing to achieve a racial balance in schools.