63 Years After the Historical Brown v. Board of Education: How Far Have We Really Come?

By May 18, 2017Blog

“[N]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” —Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

On May 17, 2017, we celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark  Brown v. Board of Education decision. Here are 5 interesting facts about the case:

  1. The Supreme Court unanimously voted that racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

  2. Brown v. Board of Education was filed against the Topeka, Kansas school board by representative-plaintiff Oliver Brown, whose daughter, Linda Brown had to walk a mile to school when she only lived seven blocks from an all-white school.

  3. While segregation was implemented throughout much of the South, Kansas’ law gave cities with populations over 15,000 the right to segregate their school systems.

  4. Under the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court made a unanimous decision that racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In his decision he wrote, “…we conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine ‘separate but equal’ has no place.”

  5. Brown v. Board of Education was not limited to Topeka, Kansas and the name was given to five separate cases that were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliott, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (VA), Bolling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel. All of the cases went before the Supreme Court and were consolidated under the name Brown v. Board of Education.

While it has been over 60 years since the courts handed down their unanimous decision, our state still has miles to go before we truly provide every child with access to the fair, equal education they deserve.  To that end, this legislative session ConnCAN, along with community advocate are fighting for our state leaders to adopt a fair and sustainable school funding formula.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued his scathing ruling in September 2016, urging legislators to create a funding formula that provides every child with the quality education that they need and deserve. Since the beginning of session, we have seen variations of a state budget that continue to treat students differently based the school they choose to attend, rather than on their learning needs. By treating our kids unfairly, we are repeating history. We can no longer deprive our children their right to a great education in order to obtain a successful future.

The ruling handed down in Brown v. Board of Education was a courageous decision. Those in power looked past the status quo and stood up for what’s right; it’s time our state leaders do the same. While opinions may vary, one thing remains true — every child, no matter their race, zip code or income should have access to a great education.

As a mother, I want the best education possible for my son Jose. He, and every other child in Connecticut deserves to have access to an education that will propel them into a bright future. The lack of quality schools in my city of Bridgeport has devastating consequences. Kids like my son are stuck on waitlists year after year, while others are given a golden ticket to a great education. What makes my son and other children less deserving of an education that holds the key to the rest of their lives?

As we reflect on the historic decision made by the Supreme Court 63 years ago, I think we should asks ourselves one simple question: how far have we really come?

Jessica Martinez is a parent advocate and lead plaintiff in the  education equity and adequacy lawsuit, Martinez v. Malloy.