The Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education 60 years ago began when Oliver L. Brown, a welder, went to court because his daughter Linda could not attend Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kan., seven blocks from her home. The Supreme Court ruled definitively that “separate but equal” has no place in the American Constitution, that separate facilities are inherently unequal.
Sixty years later, residential patterns have resegregated many of our schools. First lady Michelle Obama speaking in Topeka noted “many young people in America are going to school largely with kids who look just like them. Too often, those schools aren’t equal, especially ones attended by students of color, which too often lag behind, with crumbling classrooms and less experienced teachers.” And if schoolrooms have resegregated, boardrooms have never really desegregated.
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. Yet, just as it is important to understand what remains to be done, the historic importance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown should not be overlooked.
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