JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1952DESEGREGATION IN PUBLIC EDUCATION RULING 62 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Sixty-two years ago today, May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public education is a violation of the United States Constitution.
The decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, announced by Chief Justice Earl Warren, 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 and other black children who were denied admission to all-white schools. The Browns were chosen as the namesake of the lawsuit because they were listed first alphabetically.
Linda, a third grader in Topeka, Kansas, was denied admission to Sumner Elementary School which was only four blocks from the Brown home. The little girl had to cross railroad tracks and walk four miles to the bus stop which serviced the nearest all-black elementary school.
Linda Brown later said...
"My father pondered, 'Why should my child walk four miles when there is a school only four blocks away?'"
The Browns were represented by a group of attorneys led by Thurgood Marshall. A year after the ruling in Brown v. Board, the Supreme Court issued guidelines for desegregation of public schools calling for compliance "with all deliberate speed".
*Linda Brown was born on February 20, 1942 in Topeka, KS.. daughter of Leola & Oliver Brown. Five years after the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in the Brown v. Board decision, she moved with her family to Springfield, MO. She returned to Topeka after her father's death and attended Washburn and Kansas State University. She worked as an educational consultant.
"Linda Brown, Civil Rights Activist," www.biography.com/
JFK RESPONDS TO QUESTION ON SUPREME COURT'S DECISION
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy was asked the following question at his news conference fifty-four 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."