U.S. Marks 60th Anniversary of Brown Ruling that Desegregated Schools

    28 May, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    Sixty years ago this month, the highest court in the United States changed American education. On May 17, 1954, all nine judges of the Supreme Court ruled against racial separation in public schools. The court says such segregation in schools violates the United States constitution.

    Many school systems had separate schools for white students and black students at the time of the ruling. The system was the result of a court ruling from 1896, that decision had permitted so called "separate but equal" schools. Some schools had only white children, others had only black children.

    U.S. Marks 60th Anniversary of Brown Ruling that Desegregated Schools
    This undated file photo, location unknown, shows Linda Brown Smith. Smith was a third-grader when her father started a class-action suit in 1951, Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 landmark decision against school segregation. (Associated Press)

    About sixty years later, the case Brown vs the Board of Education came before the Supreme Court. It involved five separate legal actions, but it centered on an African-American child from the state of Kansas.

    Linda Brown lived just short distance from a school, but she was forced to travel across town to a black school because the school near her permitted only white students.

    Aderson Francois teaches law at Howard University in Washington D.C. He says the case ended official racial separation in the United States.

    "Brown essentially ended American apartheid... if by that we mean the process by which the government officially classifies people by race," said Francois.
    But Mr. Francois criticized the ruling because it did not set a time limit by which segregation had to end. As a result, some segregated schools in the south did not obey the Supreme Court ruling until the 1960s. Even today, many schools are still effectively segregated.

    In 2012, the Civil Rights Project at the University of California studied racial populations in schools. The study showed that many schools are less racially mixed than forty years ago. The study says social and economic issues are partly to blame. It also says some court cases have weakened enforcement of desegregation.

    That does not surprise education activist Jeanette Taylor. She came to Washington recently with other activists. They urged officials to act to stop putting more money into mainly white schools than those with many minority students.

    "So we're here today to tell them to stop pushing bad policies," said Taylor.
    Jitu Brown is with the Journey for Justice Alliance. He says separation based on race still exists. And he criticizes a recent Supreme Court decision, it ruled that the state of Michigan can bar public colleges and universities from considering a person's race when they decide whom to admit. Education officials say the number of African-American students has decreased at schools in states with similar bans.

    And from VOA Learning English, that's the Education Report. I'm Jerilyn Watson.