Editorial: Historic decision remains important
The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education was handed down 60 years ago today.
The case was brought by Oliver Brown of Topeka, Kan. His third-grade daughter had to ride the bus for over an hour to get to her all-black elementary school each morning, rather than going to school at the school located blocks from her home.
The court ruled unanimously in 1954 that segregating children by race in public education violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
This ruling started the end of “Jim Crow,” the racist set of laws making it legal to segregate African-Americans in public places and in private businesses. “Jim Crow” began in the 1870s following the end of the Civil War.
The legality of “Jim Crow” ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
There was significant risk for the plaintiffs of this lawsuit. Many of the plaintiffs and members of their families lost their jobs and had credit cut off after the lawsuits were filed. The house and church of one plaintiff were burned to the ground in South Carolina.
There was further backlash and resistance against the Brown v. Board of Education through the rest of 1950s and into the 1960s.
In 1958 in Virginia, officials closed select public schools rather than opening those schools to blacks. In 1963, Alabama Gov. George Wallace proclaimed “Segregation now! Segregations tomorrow! Segregation forever!”
Schools, especially in the South, were not integrated until the later part of the 1960s.
Segregation remains an issue across America today due to a variety of other factors, such as differing birth rates, housing patterns, home affordability and job opportunities.
While the Brown v. Board of Education ruling did not end not discrimination and segregation in America, it was the beginning of the end of the legality of racism.
However, the fight against racism continues today, 60 years after the historic decision.