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Brown at 53: A Call to Action

Dennis Parker,
Former Director,
ACLU Racial Justice Program
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May 17, 2007

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, and as we remember the landmark ruling that forever changed the course of public education in the United States, we do so with mixed feelings of celebration and regret. Rejecting the notion of “separate but equal” that had ruled the U.S. for generations, the Brown decision was and remains one of the nation’s clearest calls for justice and racial equality in public education. But decades later, that vision of quality, integrated schools for all children, remains a dream deferred. Too many of our nation’s youth are confined to overcrowded, underfunded schools that are every bit as segregated as in the days before Brown , and in some cases, even more so.

Remembering all that has changed since Brown, and all that has not, the American Civil Liberties Union remains committed to the fight to make the vision expressed in Brown a reality. In Connecticut, we are negotiating a settlement that will help to realize the dream of quality, integrated schools for hundreds more Hartford-area schoolchildren in the years to come. We have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to uphold the continued use of initiatives that help communities create integrated schools as it considers the constitutionality of voluntary school integration programs that use race as a factor in student assignment. In districts around the country, we are working to end the School to Prison Pipeline , a disturbing national trend in which primarily students of color are pushed out of schools and into the juvenile justice system.

Much has been accomplished since the Court’s 1954 decision in Brown, and much remains to be done. Today and every day forward, we celebrate Brown as a call to action.

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