Brown v. Board of Education 65th Anniversary

On May 17, 2019, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education turns 65. On this date in 1954, the Court declared the doctrine of “separate but equal” unconstitutional and handed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) the most celebrated victory in its storied history. Brown v. Board of Education invalidated racial segregation in public schools throughout the United States and paved the way for integration in nearly every aspect of American life. The case was litigated by some of the nation’s best attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter, Jack Greenberg, Constance Baker Motley, Spottswood Robinson, Oliver Hill, Louis Redding, and James Nabrit, among others. 

More than six decades after Brown v. Board of Education opened the door to increased educational opportunities, significant challenges remain. All over the country, LDF continues to fight to secure access to quality educational opportunities for all children. This is part of LDF’s ongoing work to challenge racial discrimination at all levels of education, including K-12 and higher education, and to advocate for policies and legislation that ensure inclusive and quality educational opportunities. From our efforts to stand up for a policy aimed at making New York City’s elite public high schools more diverse, to our defense of race-conscious admissions at Harvard University, protecting Brown v. Board of Education’s promise remains central to LDF’s work.

LDF also continues to vociferously condemn the growing chorus of Trump’s judicial and executive nominees who have refused to endorse the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The failure to offer explicit support for the decision is a judicial dog-whistle and LDF continues to believe it should be disqualifying. Chief Justice Warren noted in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that, “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” As LDF’s Policy Director Lisa Cylar Barrett recently wrote, “sixty-five years later, it should be axiomatic that the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place in any field.”

Brown @ 65 Reading List

Brown v. Board of Education Decision

The Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Brown.

Brown v. Board of Education Case Page

An overview of the landmark decision.

Legal Minds Behind Brown v. Board of Education

Brief biographies on some of the leading lights of the legal team.

LDF Remembers the Life of Linda Brown Thompson

LDF's tribute to Linda Brown Thompson, who was one of the young students at the heart of the landmark case.

Recent New York Times Obituary for Barbara Johns

As part of its Overlooked series, the New York Times recently published an obituary for Barbara Johns, an courageous student organizer and one of the plaintiffs in Brown.

Six of the Women Behind Brown v. Board of Education

More on six of the women whose invaluable contributions made the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board possible.

The Significance of “The Doll Test”

More on doctors Kenneth and Mamie Clark and the importance of the “The Doll Test” to the Brown case.

The Southern Manifesto and “Massive Resistance” to Brown 

More on the resistance to the Brown decision.

LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill's Reading List for Brown

“For those who are seeking to learn more about the case that changed America, this reading list offers a place to begin, from children’s books to biographies to some of the most riveting non-fiction I have ever read.” 
— Sherrilyn Ifill

Documents in the National Archives Related to Brown 

Educational documents from the case at the National Archives.

Nominees and the Brown Decision

Washington Post Op-Ed: If Judicial Nominees Don’t Support ‘Brown v. Board,’ They Don’t Support the Rule of Law

Op-ed from LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill on rising trend of Trump judicial and executive nominees refusing to endorse the Brown decision.

LDF Statement on Deputy Attorney General Nominee Jeffrey Rosen Refusing to Endorse Decision in Brown 

Statement from LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill on Deputy Attorney General nominee Jeffrey Rosen's refusal to say that Brown was correctly decided.

LDF Letter Opposing Michael Park’s Nomination for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals

Sent the week before the 65th anniversary of Brown, LDF’s opposition letter cites Park’s failure to support the momentous ruling during his confirmation hearing as a disqualifying factor.

LDF Blog: Neomi Rao Showed Us Who She Was In College – Believe Her

Blog post by former LDF Policy Director Todd A. Cox detailing judicial nominee Neomi Rao's anti-civil rights record, including her unwillingness to offer support for decision in Brown.

CNN Op-Ed: A Judge Pick who Won't Back Landmark Brown Case is Unacceptable

Op-ed from former LDF Policy Director Todd A. Cox on judicial nominee Wendy Vitter's failure to endorse the Brown decision.

LDF Blog: Drawing A Red Line on Brown v. Board of Education

Blog post by Cristian A. Farias, former Writer-in-Residence at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, on the importance of judicial nominees affirming the Supreme Court's decision in Brown.

Watch and Listen

Watch LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill Discuss the 65th Anniversary of Brown v. Board with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC

Watch as LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill  joins Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and how important it is for judicial nominees to say that the case was correctly decided.

Listen to Former LDF President and Director-Counsel Jack Greenberg and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky Discuss Brown

Jack Greenberg, LDF’s second Director-Counsel and a member of the Brown legal team, discusses LDF’s strategy in Brown, the experience of arguing before the Court, the long road to desegregation, and his friendship with Thurgood Marshall.

Watch videos detailing the Impact of the Brown decision

Watch two short videos on Brown's legacy.

Brown at 65 Events

Thursday, May 16, 2019

In honor of the 65th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and other civil rights organizations will be hosting a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, May 16th. Find out more here.

Friday, May 17, 2019

To commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's momentous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) will be hosting a luncheon to celebrate the historic victory as well as some of the incredible women who made it possible. The event will include remarks from LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill and Associate Director-Counsel Janai Nelson, as well as a recognition of the life and unparalleled work of Jean Fairfax.

Watch the live stream at 1:00 PM EST May 17, 2019.