Special Panel Discussion Explores Impact of Brown v. Board of Education as It Turns 60 This Year

A fascinating discussion on the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education takes place on Wednesday, Feb.19 at noon in Schulz 3001.

In honor of the anniversary, SSU professors Steve Estes (History), Kim Hester-Williams (English/AMCS), and Erma Jean Sims (Education) will discuss how Brown v. Board of Education has impacted all aspects of American society and continues to influence race relations and politics.

On May 17, 1954, with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court unanimously declared separate but equal education to be unconstitutional.

"When the Supreme Court first handed down the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, the view of the landmark decision (outside of the South, at least) could be summed up by the phrase "simple justice." This was, in fact, the title of the first comprehensive history of the decision, penned in the 1970s," says History Professor Steve Estes.

Since then, however, historians have suggested that Brown produced more backlash than progress on integration. At the fiftieth anniversary, one scholar even suggested that Brown would have had a more positive effect on minority academic achievement if it had simply mandated that school districts enforced the Plessy v. Ferguson "separate but equal doctrine," allowing schools to remain racially segregated as long as they were equally funded, Estes says.

"This trend in the scholarship was in part a response to the reality of school resegregation. Surprisingly, schools are more segregated in the urban Northeast and West than in the South, although all regions have seen resegregation since a high watermark of integration in the late 1980s and early 1990s," he says.

The event is hosted by the University Library.

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