Brown v. Board of Education


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Welcome to The Evergreen State College's web site commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, considered by many as the most significant judicial decision of the 20th Century.

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown that racial segregation in the public schools is unconstitutional. Declaring such separateness as "inherently unequal," the Court signaled a reversal of judicial support for racial apartheid in the United States. The Court, at last, abandoned the "separate but equal" doctrine that it had embraced in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson.

Brown's repudiation of Plessy was seismic. Much more than an historical and constitutional watershed, the decision was a cultural shift that challenged habits, customs, traditions and way of life, North and South. Just as significantly, it helped to invigorate a century-old civil rights movement and to make progress beyond the schools--in housing, voting, transportation and public accommodations.

By the end of the 20th Century, however, the nation appeared to have second thoughts about Brown. Racist opposition to African American progress and the resurgence of conservatism in all branches of government barricaded the road to desegregation. Justices with leanings perhaps closer to Plessy than to the Warren Court largely turned their backs on the spirit of Brown.

Now, 50 years after Brown, millions of persons in our nation are still in search of Brown's promise, hence our theme, "The Search for Equality." Evergreen and community leaders in Olympia and Tacoma have planned a week-long series of events to mark this anniversary. We offer a series of symposia, keynote speeches, dialogue circles, workshops, films and performances designed to reflect on the continuing disparities in education, health, economics, criminal justice and immigration. Not satisfied with merely articulating the disparities, our programs offer proactive strategies and best practices to address inequality in our society.

We hope that you will navigate our site and join us in Olympia or Tacoma, or in both venues, as we mark the anniversary of this landmark decision.

Co-chairs of the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Planning Committee:

Artee Young, J.D. Ph.D., Member of the Faculty, Evergreen Tacoma Campus
José Gómez, J.D., Member of the Faculty, Evergreen Olympia Campus

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