Why Brown v. Board of Education Is STILL the Most Important Court Decision of the 20th Century

This week has been the Anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

brown decision

The First Lady went to Topeka, Kansas to deliver a speech about the Anniversary.

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court decision, First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at Senior Appreciation Day in Topeka, Kansas, where the historic civil rights case began.

On this commemoration, there is a tendency in some quarters to take the glass half-empty approach to what’s happened in the past 60 years.

Yes, schools have gone back to being re-segregated.
Yes, there continues to be inequality in the schools, and it’s still a funding issue. If the discrepancy in funding didn’t seem to follow the re-segregation, I don’t think it would be that much of an issue.

But, don’t let anyone tell you that Brown is outdated.
That Brown wasn’t necessary.

Brown was absolutely, positively necessary.

Brown v. Board of Education was the death knell to what I call the ‘ Delusional World of Mad Men’.

Where we had a group of people believing that they were big fish in a big pond.

When, in actuality, they were fish in a pond where 90% of the rest of the fish were shoved into sardine cans.

Brown v. Board opened those sardine cans and let all the rest of the fish come out and swim in the pond. To be given the chance to swim in the pond and make it.

There is a underlying lie, that there simply weren’t qualified Black people to do jobs, and suddenly, after the Civil Rights Movement, all these folks just ‘happened’ to appear.

That’s a DAMN LIE.

The truth is, there were generations upon generations of highly qualified Black people who never got the chance to dream. To fulfill their ‘passions’. To explore ‘ possibilities’. All things that the youth of today do routinely.

I never forget that my father was a man who graduated from college with honors, then went on to score in the top 1% of the CPA exam, and couldn’t find a job. Not because he wasn’t QUALIFIED, but because he was BLACK. He was condemned because of the year of his birth.

I never forget that my mother and her three sisters, all honors graduates, with graduate degrees before Brown came down, literally had two professions from which they could choose: TEACHER or SOCIAL WORKER.

That’s it.


My Aunt had a PhD in CHEMISTRY, and the best she could hope for was to be a High School Teacher. That’s the closest she would ever get. No teaching in colleges; no going into ‘ research’ – whether for a private firm or for the public sector.

No. She could take her PhD and either become a teacher or a social worker. Unless she decided to join her fellow PhD’s at the United States Postal Service, where she would not have remotely been alone.

Brown isn’t a mere courtcase.

It is the foundation from which the building of dreams and aspirations were built. It opened the ENTIRE WORLD for people, who before had nothing but wasted potential and frustrations. How many dreams died. How much potential was murdered. How many souls were crushed because of American Apartheid? And how much did this nation lose because of that wasted potential? What cures took longer to find? What inventions came later than they should?

There’s a reason why the right wing hates Brown, because the world of their delusion has been dismantled, brick by brick, since that decision, and they can’t stand it.

Don’t let people box Brown in as just as educational decision. Don’t let the evaluation about Brown be done on such a narrow focus. The broader focus on Brown must always be studied and validated. The positives brought to this society because of Brown must never be allowed to be denigrated or disrespected.

We must always fight for a better, more just society. That will never stop. We must always gird ourselves to fight for the betterment of this country. To expand opportunity for all. Thurgood Marshall is a true American Hero. He and his colleagues NAACP Legal Defense Fund brought about the legal foundation for the dismantling of American Apartheid. This country must never be allowed to forget that. And, I will always hold him and his colleagues in the highest of respect and honor.

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry joined her fellow MSNBC host Joy Reid on Friday to talk about the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Brown v. The Board of Education and modern racial dynamics in education. Harris-Perry, an educator herself, said that the metrics used to assess the quality of an education need to include diversity as well as factors like test scores and college attendance.

Harris-Perry and Reid wrestled with the history of segregation in education and eventually moved on to discuss the rise of charter schooling which both noted are now attracting minority students as well as white students. Reid noted that this phenomenon leaves public schools with fewer students who may not be of the highest academic caliber

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21 Responses to Why Brown v. Board of Education Is STILL the Most Important Court Decision of the 20th Century

  1. rikyrah says:

    Five myths about Brown v. Board of Education

    y Imani Perry, Published: May 16

    Imani Perry, the author of “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States,” is a professor of African American studies at Princeton University.

    In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education opinion, the Supreme Court declared that state laws requiring segregation in public schools were unconstitutional. But change didn’t come easily, nor are schools all that integrated today. Sixty years after Brown, let’s examine some myths about the landmark court decision.

    1. Brown v. Board of Education was only about school segregation.

    It’s true that the case concerned segregation in public schools, but its impact went far beyond education. Brown overturned the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson , which declared that segregated train cars did not violate the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment. While it wasn’t immediately clear, Brown would eventually dismantle segregation in all public facilities such as train cars, restaurants, department stores and more. The case emboldened civil rights protesters, who, for the first time in nearly 100 years of struggle and defeat, found the federal courts on their side.

    Before the Brown ruling, Jim Crow laws meant that schooling was not only segregated, often it wasn’t even available. As historian James Anderson has noted, high schools in many areas were provided only for white children. After Brown, some municipalities were forced to provide high school education for African American youth for the first time.

    The case was also the first step in allowing significant numbers of Asians, Latinos, Africans and Caribbean people to immigrate to the United States. The Civil Rights Act, so diligently fought for by African American activists in the decade following Brown, led Congress to change racially discriminatory immigration policies. Immigrants could no longer be legally Jim Crowed, either.


    • Ametia says:

      THIS: 4. African Americans were united in their support for school desegregation.

      African Americans generally rejoiced over the Brown ruling and the other changes it spurred. However, a number of African American critics didn’t want school integration to be a priority in the struggle for racial justice. For instance, Zora Neale Hurston argued that fighting for integration suggested that African American schools — notwithstanding their dedicated and trained faculty members and their role as centers of African American life — were inferior. “How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them?” she wrote in 1955.

      W.E.B. Du Bois also had reservations. In a 1935 article, he argued that “a separate Negro school, where children are treated like human beings, trained by teachers of their own race, who know what it means to be black . . . is infinitely better than making our boys and girls doormats.” Many others warned that desegregation would mean the loss of an important black professional class. They were correct: Many black school administrators and teachers lost their jobs in the process of desegregation. And many communities lost control of their schools. Schools remain segregated, but they are no longer the community pillars they once were. In that sense, African Americans sacrificed their most important social institution, outside of the church.

    • Ametia says:

      Totally on board with the fact that this was never about sitting next to white kids. IT WAS ABOUT EQUAL FUNDING . I never got into the busing black kids to white neighborhood schools.

      NOPE! i

      if the system had been FAIR & JUST in distributing the same funding to all schools in all neighborhoods, then we could measure the whether this issue of segregation was about getting educated at predominately white schools was the real fix or having a school building that had running water, heat, bathrooms, tools and qualified paid teachers was the real fix in educating our children, all our children.

      But we all know the system was not fair nor just, and it still isn’t. Witness the charter school scams that have proliferated throughout the USA. It’s another version of segregation and funneling money and resources to the so-called privileged.

    • Yahtc says:

      Thanks for posting this excellent video, Ametia!

  2. Ametia says:

    SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014

    60 Years Later, Are You a Product of Brown Versus Board of Education?

    Today marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown versus Board of Education decision that marked the end of legal school segregation while also being one of the first victories on the road to tearing down Jim and Jane Crow.

    I am a product of the Brown versus Board of Education decision. I grew up in a racially integrated neighborhood and attended racially diverse public schools. Legal segregation may have been ended by Brown but informal segregation by others means continues(ed) in those spaces. As is common today, because of school tracking black and brown students were disproportionately put in a remedial and below average cohort. White students were/are grossly over-represented among honors and higher tracks.


  3. Ametia says:

    THIS: “The truth is, there were generations upon generations of highly qualified Black people who never got the chance to dream. To fulfill their ‘passions’. To explore ‘ possibilities’. All things that the youth of today do routinely.”




    And then came the SCOTUS Brown vs. Board of ED decision to LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD….

    And we must NEVER, EVER, FORGET what this decision stands for and will continue to stand for.

  4. You did it again, Rikyrah! Big up

    • Ametia says:

      yes, she did. Folks had better recognize that we have ALWAYS had to fight for our basic human rights, dignity, and Very being here in AMERICA. we don’t go along to get along.

  5. Yahtc says:


    Thank you for writing truth in your excellent and moving article.

    I am numb right know but feeling the heartbreaking sorrow as well as feeling some sort of a fur-ball-like thing of all the unfairness and atrocities caused by Whites that I have now have to cough up. Where would I be today (where would my parents and grandparents have been) if more-qualified Black people had not been pushed aside opening placement for Whites and my relatives and me in schools and then in employment positions?

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