Civil Rights, Education Groups Mark 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

PR Newswire | 5/19/2014, 10:25 a.m.
The Supreme Court decision on May 17, 1954, stated that separate educational facilities for blacks were inherently unequal. /Courtesy Photo

NEW YORK — National civil rights and education groups joined together Monday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the pivotal Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in America's public schools. Ten groups signed on to a full-page print ad placed in today's New York Times that poses the question "How Far Have We Really Come?" in achieving educational equity, excellence and empowerment for all children.

The organizations featured in the ad include the National Urban League, National Action Network, National Council of La Raza, NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Campaign for High School Equity, Alliance for Excellent Education, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, NALEO Educational Fund and National Indian Education Association.

In the ad, the organizations issue a call-to-action to the nation to "Fulfill the Promise" of the landmark decision by supporting equitable implementation of the Common Core State Standards and quote former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren's opinion from May 17, 1954:

"Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments…It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education…a right which must be made available to all on equal terms."

A web-based version of the ad was also developed for social media and includes the aforementioned organizations as well as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

Additionally, nine national civil rights and education organizations to date have signed on to the following joint statement of support for the Common Core State Standards and equitable implementation as a critical step in the continuing fight for equity in education:

Communiqué (Joint Statement) of Support for the Common Core State Standards and Equitable Implementation from National Civil Rights and Education Groups

As we commemorate and recognize the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, we also acknowledge that an equitable and excellent education for all students has yet to be achieved and is indeed the civil rights issue of our time. While this landmark ruling ended legal segregation in America's public schools in May 1954, separate and unequal resources and expectations have remained a reality for many students.

Still, we believe that the opportunities for a bright future and a fair chance to achieve their potential are achievable for all children – and the responsible implementation of the Common Core State Standards is a critical piece in the continuing fight for equity.

We, the undersigned, have a resolute commitment to the Common Core State Standards and their equitable implementation. These standards represent an unprecedented opportunity for us to meet our shared goals of better educating and preparing all of our children for the opportunities and jobs that will put them on a path to success – no matter where they live or how much money their parents make. The Common Core is setting us on a path where we cease to routinely have different expectations – and success outcomes – for different students. Now is not the time to turn back.