May 17, 2024

Brown V. Board of Education anniversary celebrates 70 years of inclusion

Author: Kara Smith
Source:  NYSUT Communications
Brown V. Board of Education anniversary celebrates 70 years of inclusion

May 17 marks the 70th anniversary of the landmark ruling Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The 1954 Supreme Court case unanimously ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The ruling is one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement and helped establish that “separate-but-equal” in education and other services was not in fact equal.

Lorena Smith, RC 13, remembers when the Supreme Court issued the decision. She was 14 and attending high school in Selma, Alabama. On television shortly after she watched then Gov. George Wallace block a young girl from entering a school to prevent integration. “The case passed but things didn’t really integrate in Selma until Dr. King came to town,” she said of his famous 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Although the verdict didn’t change her daily school experience, it gave her hope that change was coming. “It took a long time but — thank god — it did come.”

“Today, as we mark the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, it’s important to take time to recognize both how far we’ve come and how much further we still must travel,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person noting the importance of providing all students with equal access to a sound education. “All across New York, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, public schools are the center of our communities, and they unite us.”

The statewide union’s Social Justice Department works to confront biases and stereotypes and find actionable solutions for unity under the leadership of NYSUT Secretary Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham. Through its Many Threads, One Fabric initiative, programs like the Sticks and Stones Implicit Bias series, the Members of Color Affinity and Action Group, the BIPOC Pathways to Leadership project and the Social Justice Academy, underscore NYSUT’s dedication to combatting racism and promoting human rights and equity.

“Educators play crucial roles in advocating for inclusion in our schools and our communities,” said Abraham. “NYSUT is proud to carry out this work.”

To learn more about NYSUT’s Social Justice Department, visit