The 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board: Delaware essays and articles

May 28th, 2014

Category: News

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” declaring separate schools for white students as unconstitutional. The case of Brown v. Board of Education was heard by the Court as five cases, including  Gebhart v. Belton which was filed in Delaware. The ruling made a significant impact in our state and across the nation. However, 60 years later, the neighborhood where one lives still persistently determine the quality of public education Delaware children receive.

Marking the anniversary, Wilmington, Delaware’s The News Journal published a series of articles, essays, op-eds, and editorials about the impact of Brown v. Board, with a focus to the current state of public education. Below is a compilation of those articles, including an op-ed by our President and CEO Paul Herdman with Raye Jones Avery, Executive Director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center and member of our Board of Directors.

Still fighting for educational excellence and equity
An op-ed by Raye Jones Avery, Executive Director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center, and Paul Herdman, President and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware
We believe that the twin goals of “excellence” and “equity” are the more important drivers of success and may in fact lead to greater diversity in our schools. When it comes to educational “excellence”, we aren’t there yet. The performance of low-income children and children of color is improving, but significant achievement gaps remain.

Essay on Delaware: Wilmington’s poverty, crime
An opinion by John Taylor, Executive Director of the Delaware Public Policy Institute and Senior Vice President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce
What I discovered in that spring of 1967 would change my life, and the events I would soon be deeply engaged in reporting would change Wilmington and Delaware, forever. Similar events were happening elsewhere in the country. I wrote about all this and it shocked the readers of the Evening Journal and The Morning News – the whites who made up most of the city’s and the state’s population. How could all this be going on and nobody knew about it? They didn’t know because they didn’t want to know.

Brown v. Board, 60 years later: Are we better off?
The goal of the ruling 60 years ago was to provide equal educational opportunities to all students. In Delaware, that meant forced busing, which after a lengthy fight through much of the 1970s, began in the fall of 1978. Thirty-six years later, schools have slowly slid back toward separation, and black students are still far more likely than white students to struggle academically and drop out of school.

Delaware’s ties to Brown decision strong, unique
Most people know the Brown v. Board of Education decision is one of the most seminal Supreme Court cases in American history, but fewer know how closely Delaware is tied to its story. When the Supreme Court heard Brown, it was actually dealing with combined lawsuits from Kansas, Washington D.C., South Carolina and Virginia and Delaware.

Looking back: Busing in Wilmington
A photo gallery

Restoration of Hockessin Colored School #107C moves ahead
The Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107 – a nonprofit group launched two years ago with a grant from the African American Empowerment Fund –are making plans to restore Hockessin School 107C. “I’ve always felt it was bigger than Delaware,” said Tony Allen, a board member and Bank of America executive. “It was not just a significant Delaware moment, it was a significant national moment. It deserves our attention, our support, our praise, and it is our responsibility to pass the story along to our children.”

What the Brown decision should mean, 60 years later
An op-ed by Stefan Lallinger, grandson of Louis L. Redding, and middle school principal at the Langston Hughes Academy in New Orleans
In 1954, Louis L. Redding achieved one of the great triumphs of his prolific career, arguing before the Supreme Court and winning the landmark case of modern American history, Brown vs. Board of Education. But it was much more than a milestone in his career, for Louis Redding didn’t become a Civil Rights attorney to achieve personal victories. I know this because he was my grandfather.

Sixty years after Brown and still a long way to go
An op-ed by Jeff Raffel, Helen Foss and Joseph Rosenthal were all involved in the desegregation effort in New Castle County dating back to the early 1970s. They are also current or former board members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, which continues to work to fulfill the promise of Brown
Many have now recognized that the United States will need all its citizens to succeed in school to remain a prosperous democracy in the decades ahead. Most significantly, Brown was as much about ending America’s Jim Crow – a system which stigmatized and demeaned one race – as it was about improving educational opportunity for African-Americans. The Brown decision was not the end, but the beginning, of our challenge.

A movement to desegregate resonates decades later
An op-ed by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former lieutenant governor of Maryland
Fifty-five years ago, in a small county southwest of Richmond, Virginia, a law was broken. The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors stood its ground against Brown v. Board of Education – the landmark Supreme Court decision that, in part, required schools to desegregate. Many from around the nation regarded this as an outrage and a disgrace – both for Virginia and for the country. Among them were the man elected president the following November, John F. Kennedy, and my father, Robert Kennedy.

Teaching young people about Brown v. Board’s legacy
An op-ed by Samuel Hoff, is the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science and Law Studies Director at Delaware State University
Taking steps to ensure the positive legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling involves individuals, groups and government itself. The local school board is the place to begin in that parents should make sure schools fully practice integration and resources are equal for all within the district. Local and state government must support efforts to equalize educational opportunities for persons of all races and ethnic backgrounds, not only because it is the law but because it is the best approach for students.

Black, white, brown: Delaware’s role in desegregation
An op-ed by Collins Seitz, Jr., an attorney at Seitz Ross Aronstam & Moritz LLP in Wilmington
As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, this special occasion causes us to reflect on the historic role Delaware judges, lawyers and litigants played in reforming race relations in the United States. One of those judges was my father, Collins J. Seitz, who had the courage to do what in Delaware no other judge in any of the separate appeals in Brown would do – order the immediate admission of black students to white schools.

The Delaware judge who changed America
An op-ed by William Quillen, a former Delaware Supreme Court Justice and Secretary of State
I remember Collins Seitz as an unpretentious, modestly mannered, totally open human being with a passion for social justice and a cutting ability to distinguish right from wrong. His candor was disarming, but never mean spirited. To his judicial colleagues and contemporaries, he was “Collins” and he treated the most recent admittee to the Bar, or a teenager serving legal papers, just as he treated a United States Supreme Court Justice.

Thurgood Marshall, the man with the winning strategy
An op-ed by Leland Ware, the Louis L. Redding Professor at the University of Delaware
Thurgood Marshall was a Civil Rights advocate and Supreme Court justice who had an unparalleled influence on American law. Marshall was born in Baltimore on July 2, 1908. He attended segregated public schools and graduated from high school in 1925. Marshall later enrolled in Lincoln University in Lincoln, Pennsylvania.

Study ‘Brown’ decision to understand today’s Delaware
An editorial
Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Brown v. Board of Education” decision that ended the legal segregation of America’s public schools. That decision influences us to this day.

Brittany Mason



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