The 57th Anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) is here. On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously held that segregation in public schools in America violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
It was an event that helped spawn the modern civil rights movement and led to the eventual end of Jim Crow Segregation in the United States. It also upheld the importance of the equal protection of the laws for all Americans for all time to come.
After 57 years we pause today to make an assessment of the state of race relations, and for that matter, anything that might impact real equality in the United States.
Struggles For Justice does not like what it finds. While the law is in practice equally applied to all Americans today and Jim Crow is dead, racial discrimination and prejudice remain with us.
When African-American men are more likely to be in prison than on the job we have a problem.
When our cities are mere shells of their former selves and those that remain in them are disregarded, ignored and are impoverished and without hope we have a problem.
When 73% of teachers in inner-city schools that are predominately of color of whatever variety are teaching outside of the subject they had been trained to teach we have a problem.
When racial hate groups are at an all time high and are active according to the Southern Poverty Law Center we have a problem.
When drugs and gun violence are epidemic among Black and Latino youth we have a problem.
When political candidates use people of color jumping over fences in a reprise of Willie Horton to appeal for votes we have a problem.
When Shirley Shirrod can have her reputation destroyed in less than twenty-four hours by a bigot with an agenda and her boss won’t come to her immediate defense we have a problem.
When tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations so greatly exceed investment in our young people and of our nation’s infrastructure we have a problem.
When Native-Americans remain on reservations and are known only for their gambling casinos: their culture and histories that enrich us all forgotten and so disrespected we have a problem.
When the poor, the elderly, the foreigner, the Black, the Latino, the Asian-American, the sick, Native-American, and so many who are oppressed are left to fend for themselves amidst record wealth we have a problem.
When we pay more attention to the rights of a corporation in Citizens United than we do to flesh and blood human beings we have a problem.
When a black President struggles so much to simply be seen as legitimate and so many Americans deny race has anything to do with it we have a problem.
When what color you are is yet so closely linked to how successful you are in America we have a problem.
And now white Americans who have been traditionally middle class citizens of white privilege are also finding that the promise of this country is not being met for them. Our public schools, governments, institutions and those things that are most important are being dis-invested in with intent.
Racial and economic equality are both under extreme peril today. The United States does not offer the kind of opportunity that our parents had. We all know it. Naturally, with racial prejudice still alive and well, it is used as a wedge to keep people from uniting in common cause to revive what this nation embarked on 57 years ago today.
In Brown vs. Board of Education our nation finally embraced true equality under the law.
We also celebrate and mark the courage and goodness of the Freedom Riders of 1961 50 Years Ago.
There are two sides to this question. It is the most fundamental question facing the nation today: will we turn toward or away from equal opportunity?
How we answer that question will tell us a great deal about ourselves. Already we have some early returns on that answer and it points to investment in the privileged and dis-investment in the well-being of those that are not.
Struggles For Justice marks the 57th Anniversary of Brown vs. Board noting how segregated our society is despite all the progress made in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It sickens anyone who loves humankind and embraces and reaches out and seeks justice. Let us have justice. Let us re-affirm the equal protection and application of the laws for all Americans today.