The Future of Brown: Fifty Years Ago, Brown V. Board of Education Was One of the Linchpins of a Social Revolution That Ended Jim Crow. in Many Ways It Was More Successful at Ending Segregation in Public Life Than It Was in Changing Our Schools. What Is Brown's Relevance for the Next Decade?
Goode, Victor, Colorlines Magazine
By the time this article is read the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education will be well underway. Last year the academic press began the process of commemorating Brown with a number articles in education journals, law reviews and academic conferences. Most commentators will, of course, celebrate one of this country's most important cases and lament that the vision of Brown to end segregated schooling in America remains unfulfilled. These two versions of Brown, as moral compass and unfulfilled promise, are both accurate. Seldom has the Supreme Court issued an opinion with such profound implications for the direction of our country, and seldom has a court order been so persistently evaded by a combination of determined opposition and eroding judicial support. While over these 50 years Brown has been critiqued from as many different directions as the geometric facets of a snowflake, today it remains a cornerstone of our legal culture, but one whose relevance for the next decade is in serious doubt.
From a purely legal standpoint Brown was remarkably sparse on the law. The entire decision is only a few pages long and even the principle litigants were shocked at the brevity of the opinion. But in its brief discussion, the Court issued a decree that resonates in the memory of most of us who came of age in the 1950s and '60s. It declared that in the field of public education "separate but equal has no place." However, in that simple majestic command lies one of Brown's greatest ironies. The year 1954 will forever mark the beginning of the end of the legal structure of American apartheid known as "Jim Crow." Although the decision was directed only at public education, it soon became the precedent for the legal assault on segregation in other areas of public life. In many ways Brown was far more successful in ending segregation in those arenas than it was in changing our public schools. With the civil rights movement at its peak, federal judges began applying Brown's reasoning far beyond public education, and Congress finally responded in 1965 with the passage of the most comprehensive civil rights act in nearly 100 years. A social revolution had been unleashed, and Brown was one of its linchpins.
A Story of Unredeemed Promise …
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Publication information: Article title: The Future of Brown: Fifty Years Ago, Brown V. Board of Education Was One of the Linchpins of a Social Revolution That Ended Jim Crow. in Many Ways It Was More Successful at Ending Segregation in Public Life Than It Was in Changing Our Schools. What Is Brown's Relevance for the Next Decade?. Contributors: Goode, Victor - Author. Magazine title: Colorlines Magazine. Volume: 7. Issue: 2 Publication date: Summer 2004. Page number: 3+. © 2009 Color Lines Magazine. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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