The Ruling That Changed America

The unfinished legacy of Brown v. Board of Education

Related Documents

Bending Toward Justice
One day in May 1954 things changed, and did not change. For millions of black Americans, news of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education meant that they and their children no longer had to attend separate, and almost universally unequal, schools. But for some of us little seemed different.
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The Ruling that Changed America
Fifty years later, the Brown decision looks different. At a distance from the volcanic heat of May 17, 1954, the real impact of the legal, political, and cultural eruption that changed America is not exactly what it first appeared to be.
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From First to Footnote
The story of Summerton and its schools is a footnote to history. On the surface, daily life in this small South Carolina town today is a far cry from that of a half century ago. At the same time, little seems to have changed—and many residents seem to prefer it that way. And with good reason, for the townspeople—especially whites—continue to cast a wary eye at Summerton's place in history. The town is home to Briggs v. Elliott, the first of five cases later consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education and arguably the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.
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The Role of Civic Virtue
It was the late 1940s, the era of Jim Crow, and a time when black families sometimes had to travel miles just to find a colored bathroom. For African Americans, life in all aspects of society was separate and decidedly unequal.Yet that reality did not deter a small group of South Carolina parents who wanted the best for their kids. Something deep inside, something almost unknown, stirred them to pursue justice and equality for their children.
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Calling on the Magic of Brown
The 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education arrives during a very political year. Education is likely to be a bigger issue during the 2004 presidential election than it has ever been, with both parties twisting and turning the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for political ends. Count on seeing references to Brown and other politically charged terms related to education thrown about daily. Why? Because the Supreme Court's landmark decision still carries plenty of political, moral, and educational currency, even after 50 years.
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The New Diversity
Legal segregation might be dead, but many metropolitan schools remain overwhelmingly black and poor. The burgeoning Hispanic population is finding itself in increasingly segregated schools across the country, particularly in the West. How we respond to these trends—whether we bridge these divides or retreat into balkanized neighborhoods and schools separated by race, class, and wealth—will in large part determine what type of society we become in the 21st century.
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Teaching Brown
Discussions about race are being held throughout classrooms across the nation. As the Brown case emerges from the shadows of history textbooks and into the light of modern scrutiny, teachers from Oklahoma to Oregon to Ohio are looking for ways to show kids that the time for dialogue isn't over.
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Brown and the Dream Deferred
If our democratic experiment is to survive, we must teach our children the moral obligations of living in a free society.
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Brown 50 Years Later
As we were planning this special issue of American School Board Journal, we asked a number of leading educators and public figures to contribute brief reflections on what the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education has meant for American public education and American society—and what lies ahead. The result was an outpouring of thoughtful commentary.
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Remembering Brown
Interviews with Richard Riley, John Hope Franklin, Walter Cronkite, Ted Shaw, and Richard Kluger
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Before and After Brown: A Timeline
While the Brown v. Board of Education ruling led to massive changes in how America educates its children, it was the result of a long struggle that continues even in the shadow of the 50th anniversary of the decision. This timeline, culled from a variety of resources, illustrates that struggle from 1887 to today.
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Resources on Brown v. Board of Education
As the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education approaches, the amount of information about the case and its impact can be overwhelming, especially when you start searching on the Web. So we've done some paring down for you.
April 2004