More than 65 years ago, on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court declared state-sponsored school segregation unconstitutional. With the Brown vs Board of Education decision, the Court promised education on “equal terms.” The following PBS video adequately reports about the Supreme Court’s historical rejection of segregation in America’s Southern schools (Brown vs Board of Education, Topeka, KS):
Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of this decision, we ask ourselves how well our society has lived up to its promise. Martin Luther King Jr. described Brown in words similar to these “a fantastic beacon light of hope for millions of the world’s disinherited people who only had their dreams of freedom.”
Yet, a beacon may light the way to a destination without actually taking us there. As King foresaw, the forces opposed to racial justice and educational opportunity have stymied almost every legal mandate to implement schooling on equal terms. Today, the beacon still shines, but the journey to equal terms for low-income communities of color continues.