Press Releases

Conyers Celebrates the 59th Anniversary of Landmark case Brown v. Board of Education

Washington, DC, May 17, 2013

Today marks the 59th anniversary of the seminal civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).  In this case, the Supreme Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson,163 U.S. 537 (1896) which held that separate but equal treatment of blacks and whites was constitutional. Oliver Brown, along with a collection with thirteen African American parents filed suit against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas after their children were denied admittance to the closest all White elementary school in their district.  Mr. Brown’s daughter, Linda, a third grader, had to walk about mile to get to her segregated black school, although the nearest all-white school was only seven blocks away.  Mr. Brown’s case was argued in the Supreme Court by Thurgood Marshall, who was then chief counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court held “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.  Separate facilities are inherently unequal.  Rep. Conyers issued this statement:

“The decision from the Supreme Court in Brown was the catalyst that provided the fundamental shift in policy and thinking in the United States, and in the U.S. Congress.

“Despite the immense progress made in the last century, the barriers against equality that were apparent during the civil rights movement are, unfortunately, still largely the same and have been transformed into more sophisticated practices.

“We must dedicate ourselves to ending these modern-day inequalities, such as fair access to the ballot box, ensuring women are awarded fair compensation on the merits of their performance in the work place, expanding access to health care and jobs regardless of economic status, and guaranteeing that every citizen can live free from discrimination and persecution despite their sexual orientation.

“Our approach in the 21st century to fight for equality must continue the incredible strength and courage which brought us those earlier victories.”