Brown's 60th Anniversary - A Story of Judicial Isolation
The Pursuit of Racial and Ethnic Equality in American Public Schools, Michigan State University Press, 2014
21 Pages Posted: 26 May 2016
Date Written: May 26, 2016
Sixty years ago the Supreme Court announced, “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.”1 In 1954, no one doubted the significance of that command, even among those who actively resisted it.
Brown v. Board of Education 2 has now outlasted Plessy v. Ferguson, which for 58 years sanctioned “separate but equal”. Does that necessarily mean, however, that Brown has eclipsed Plessy in significance? Has the power of Brown instead waned in its advancing age? Granted, few publically decree Plessy as the best guide to race relations in the twenty-first century; yet, our schools are still segregated and unequal in ways reminiscent of Plessy. That naturally leads one to question the lasting significance of Brown, particularly as it turns 60.
This chapter examines the legacy of Brown through the lens of two sets of school desegregation cases. The first are four cases that the Supreme Court considered in its Brown v. Board of Education decision — cases from Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, and Virginia. The second are school desegregation cases litigated in the Middle District of Alabama.
Keywords: schools, education, desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education
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