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.”