Federal Commission to Mark Anniversary of Brown DecisionWASHINGTON
U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick Paige and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the creation of the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission last month. The commission was created to encourage and coordinate activities that will commemorate the 1954 ruling, one of the most important decisions ever issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Under the direction of co-chairs Gerald Reynolds, assistant secretary of education for civil rights, and Ralph F. Boyd Jr., assistant attorney general for civil rights, the commission will work with the Department of Education and the Brown Foundation to educate the nation on the case’s historical significance through campaigns, activities and initiatives that will culminate with the 50th anniversary of the decision on May 17, 2004.
“The Supreme Court’s 1954 decision … dramatically opened the doors of opportunity to countless numbers of Americans, including me,” Paige said.
Paige also linked the ruling’s anniversary to the Bush administration’s recent efforts to reform education with the “No Child Left Behind” law.
“The Brown decision is a stark reminder that we must not rest until all children, no matter their race or ethnicity, no matter whether they live in an urban, suburban or rural school district, no matter whether or not they have a disability, have access to a high-quality education. Full implementation of the new federal law, including accountability and opportunity for students to learn, is one way to stay true to the principles of the Brown decision,” Paige said.
The first meeting of the commission will be held Nov. 13 at Howard University, which was at the epicenter of the civil rights movement and was the venue for much of the planning and strategy.
The Howard University, School of Law, deemed the “West Point of the Civil Rights Movement,” was the training ground for a number of the African American lawyers on the case, including Thurgood Marshall, who went on to become the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
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