President Barack Obama will observe the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation decision Friday by meeting with families of the plaintiffs in the case as well as the lead attorneys and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Obama will host the group, including lawyers Jack Greenberg and William Coleman, in the White House East Room Friday afternoon. Greenberg argued the case; Coleman was a leading legal strategist in the case. The court issued its decision on May 17, 1954.
First lady Michelle Obama was observing the anniversary by traveling Friday to Topeka, Kan., site of the lawsuit that initiated the case. The first lady was to meet with high school students in a college preparatory program and later was speaking at a pre-graduation event for seniors in the Topeka Public School District.
The president has also issued a proclamation declaring that the decision “shifted the legal and moral compass of our nation.”
In the proclamation Obama noted that the court’s decision alone did not destroy segregation, recalling that the struggle for civil rights continued and that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act did not become law for another decade.
“Thanks to the men and women who fought for equality in the courtroom, the legislature, and the hearts and minds of the American people” he wrote, “we have confined legalized segregation to the dustbin of history. Yet today, the hope and promise of Brown remains unfulfilled. In the years to come, we must continue striving toward equal opportunities for all our children, from access to advanced classes to participation in the same extracurricular activities.”