Statement on 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board

On May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and held state-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional. This historic decision marked the end of the "separate but equal" precedent set by the Supreme Court nearly 60 years earlier. Today, on the eve of the 60th anniversary, we reflect on Brown’s impact.

We celebrate Brown acknowledging that there are still many challenges facing education.  Earlier this week the National Law Journal published a series of articles on
legal education’s diversity deficit.  Despite modest gains in the past decade, minorities comprised only one-quarter of enrollment in 2012.  According to NLJ, that means legal education still has a long way to go before it reflects the diversity of the country as a whole, considering that minorities made up 37 percent of the population in 2012.

April 22, 2014, in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s voter ban on affirmative action in college admissions adding, Michigan to a growing number of states around the country banning affirmative action.

California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington have also passed voter based laws banning affirmative action in higher education admission decisions. Since the passage of these bans, schools located in these states have seen a drop in the admission of minority students.

At the University of Michigan’s flagship Ann Arbor campus,
black enrollment dropped 30 percent after the state’s affirmative action ban passed in 2006. At the campus’ law school, just 14 black students enrolled in 2008.  Enrollment numbers of black students has not risen since that time.

It is clear that the National Bar Association’s work is not complete. We are reminded that while educational institutions are integrated, we must continue our fight to ensure they remain as such.  There is still much to do in order to defend old and secure new Civil Rights victories. We are committed and determined to do so, until equality and justice for all is firmly established in the United States.

Patricia Rosier,

Copyright © 2014 National Bar Association, All rights reserved.

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