Document Type


Publication Date

January 2005

First Page



The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, founder of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund ("LDF"), and head of the legal team that litigated Brown v. Board of Education,' knew well the challenges that desegregation posed in a nation founded on a system of racial subjugation and white supremacy. A full thirty years after Brown, he acknowledged: Desegregation is not and was never expected to be an easy task. Racial attitudes ingrained in our Nation's childhood and adolescence are not quickly thrown aside in its middle years.... In the short run, it may seem to be the easier course to allow our great metropolitan areas to be divided up each into two cities-one white, the other black-but it is a course, I predict, our people will ultimately regret. Although Brown's role in ending state-mandated racial segregation in public schools is well-known throughout this country, the story did not end with the Supreme Court decision in 1954, nor did it end with Brown's companion case one year later.' In truth, the promise of Brown, so revolutionary at its inception, was frustrated at key intervals by a number of actors. Perhaps the most significant of these was the very institution that gave it life-the Supreme Court. As a result, although we have traveled fifty years from that momentous ruling, we, as a nation, have had less than half that time to actively work to achieve its covenant and ensure full equality of educational opportunities.