Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The Supreme Court ruled 60 years ago today, May 17, 1954, that racial segregation in public education is a violation of the United States Constitution.
The unanimous ruling was announced by Chief Justice Earl Warren of California.
The decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. While that case centered on segregation in rail transportation, the ruling was applied to public education facilities as well.
The 1896 ruling said that as long as facilities were "separate but equal" there was no violation of constitutional principles. As a matter of practice, however, facilities were "separate" but never "equal".
The Brown case was initiated by the NAACP in behalf of Linda Brown, a 3rd grader in Topeka, Kansas who was denied admission to her local elementary school because of her race.
The Browns were represented by a group of attorneys led by Thurgood Marshall.
A year later the Court issues guidelines for desegregation of public schools calling for compliance "with all deliberate speed".
JFK RESPONDS TO QUESTION ON BROWN V. BOARD
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy was asked the following question at his news conference 52 years ago today, May 17, 1962, in the State Department Auditorium here in the Nation's Capital...
"Today is the 8th anniversary of the Supreme Court desegregation decision. Do you feel that progress in this area has been rapid enough?"
"I think we can always hope more progress can be made in the cause of civil rights, or equal opportunity.
There is a good deal left undone, and while progress has been made, I think we can always improve equality of opportunity in the United States."
JFK At His News Conference