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Brown V Board Feature – NEA Today

Is Housing Desegregation the Answer for Schools?

Sixty-five years ago, the Brown v. Board of Education ruling promised integrated and equitable schools. Today, as one sign of progress, housing officials collaborate with educators to integrate neighborhoods as one means to achieving school integration.

“Housing and school policies have a strong connection and can deeply effect patterns of racial and economic progress in communities,” says Harry Lawson, director of NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Office. “This makes it important for educators and education advocates who understand the benefits of school integration to meet with housing officials and make recommendations on attendance zones and school district boundaries.”

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‘We Cannot Walk Away From That Commitment’

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” the Court ruled unanimously, declaring that schools and other institutions violated the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The doctrine of “separate but equal,” which had been the law of the land since 1896 when Plessy v. Ferguson was decided, was audaciously overturned. Thurgood Marshall, a leading attorney with the case, recalled, “I was so happy I was numb.” He predicted that school segregation would come to an end within five years.

What happened? Did Brown matter?

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