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Educators plan public actions to mark 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board

Actions to demand fulfilling the promise of landmark Supreme Court decision

WASHINGTON - May 12, 2014 -

Members of the National Education Association will mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education with a series of public actions, programs, rallies, and digital engagements beginning May 12th and leading up the anniversary on May 17th.

“Sixty years after the Brown v. Board of Education landmark decision, the future of public education stands at a critical crossroads,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “All week and beyond—from the steps of the Supreme Court to the halls of State Houses and in communities across the country—we will call on all Americans to take action now, to speak up, to raise their hands, and to reaffirm the promise of racial justice in our nation’s schools as outlined in the landmark decision. And educators, the foot soldiers of social justice for generations, will take the lead. We know that our work is fundamental to our students and the future of our nation. We will stand up to demand equity, excellence and great public schools for all our students.”

On May 17, 1954, Brown v. Board overthrew the Jim Crow ideology of “separate but equal.” The unanimous Supreme Court decision not only outlawed school segregation policies, but also invigorated the civil rights movement’s quest to end Jim Crow laws affecting everything from lunch counters, to buses, to voting rights.

Sixty years later, public education is reminiscent of the pre-Brown days. 

  • Nearly half of the nation’s students are low income; forty-four percent are students of color, and both populations are concentrated in segregated schools 
  •  According to federal data, 80 percent of Hispanic students and 74 percent of Black students are in schools where the majority of students are not whit
  • At the same time, 43 percent of Hispanic students and 38 percent of Black students attend “intensely segregated schools” where White students comprise 10 percent or less than the student body.


 Below are highlights of key events and actions taking place all week.

Washington, D.C., United States Supreme Court
On Tuesday, May 13, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel will join the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools at a rally at the Supreme Court to reaffirm the promise of racial justice in public schools. The rally will take place at 12:30 EST.
On Tuesday, May 13, NEA will release “Time for Change: Diversity in Teaching Revisited,” a vision for an education workforce reflective and responsive to the diversity of our students. The event will take place at the headquarters of the NEA, 1201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC. The event starts at 10 a.m. EST.

Topeka, Kansas
All week, the national spotlight will be on Topeka, Kansas, where sixty years ago the Supreme Court banned school segregation laws.

On Saturday, May 17, the Kansas National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and other coalition partners will celebrate the unprecedented equity advancement that the Brown decision had upon public education and draw attention to the recent setbacks due to current attacks on public education, students, educators, and families by the Kansas legislature and Governor Sam Brownback.

Expected keynote speakers are KNEA President Karen Godfrey and AFT President Randi Weingarten as well as speakers representing family members associated with the Brown decision, Game On, and other partners.

The May 17 event follows on the heels of a widely anticipated commencement speech by First Lady Michelle Obama to Kansas graduating high school students in Topeka on Friday.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
On Saturday, May 17, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association will host a rally, titled “Justice for All: Creating Schools and Communities Our Children Deserve.” Donna Brazile, media and political strategist, will keynote the rally, which is expected to draw educators, parents, students, and community leaders. At the rally, a community coalition is scheduled to release a report outlining concrete steps policymakers can take to achieve the goal of healthy communities and strong, integrated schools.

Denver, Colorado
On May 17, the Colorado Education Association will lead a Legacy March jointly with Free Our Teachers, Value Our Students coalition.

Social Media
Petition: NEA launched a petition, Demand Great Public Schools for Every Student, to urge the public to demand action to fulfill the promise of Brown v. Board.

All week NEA will share with the public content commemorating the Brown v. Board anniversary, including the following key data about the state of our country sixty years after the landmark decision:

Infographic: School Segregation and Isolation 60 Years Later:
Infographic: Double Segregation: Racial and Wealth Disparities in Schools Today:

Additional Resources
NEA Today, the association’s magazine, features a powerful and compelling multimedia package, called Still Separate, Still Unequal?, that investigates the painful past of segregation, the issue of double segregation today and what educators are doing to make sure all students have equal opportunities in and outside of school.

Resources for Educators: NEA compiled a list of appropriate and recommended curriculum resources for educators to discuss segregation in schools.

For more information about all these resources, please go to

For more information about the Alliance to Save Our School and related events visit

Follow the conversation on Twitter @NEAMedia @NEAToday @EdVotes

#schoolequity #BrownvBoard


The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823,