Yesterday, President Biden signed the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Expansion Act, a measure to honor and preserve the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision by officially recognizing four other communities whose contributions were essential to the case. In addition to the National Park Service site that exists in Topeka, the Act will designate and honor four new locations for the role they played in ending the era of “separate but equal”: Wilmington, Delaware; Summerton, South Carolina; Farmville, Virginia; and the District of Columbia.
In response, Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson issued the following statement:
“As the country approaches the 68th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education, we are pleased to see this legislation signed into law. This bill is important, not only because the future of American democracy requires that we honor and remember those who sacrificed to make this a more perfect union, but also because our democracy today is threatened by those who want to censor this history in our schools and eradicate its memory from our national consciousness.
“And while many people familiar with Brown are aware of the invaluable contributions of the people of Topeka, Kansas, they may be less familiar with the courageous families and communities in Wilmington, Delaware; Summerton, South Carolina; Farmville, Virginia; and the District of Columbia. This legislation is an important step towards fully acknowledging their contributions to ending racial apartheid in America and setting us on a path of progress.
“At moments like this it is critical to celebrate the example set by the farsighted and honorable people, on whose shoulders we stand— not only to remind ourselves in the here and now, but also to ensure that future generations appreciate that the progress we’ve made in this country has been the result of people just like them who joined together and sacrificed to lay the foundation for a better future.
“At LDF, we constantly strive to honor the historic and righteous victory that LDF attorneys and Thurgood Marshall — LDF’s first Director-Counsel, the architect of the Brown decision, and the first Black Supreme Court Justice — won in Brown v. Board of Education. We can think of no better way to do this than to ensure the full and true story of democracy in America is preserved and venerated for future generations.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.