President Barack Obama on Friday, May 16, marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision by recommitting to “the long struggle to stamp out bigotry and racism in all their forms.”
Obama also scheduled a meeting Friday with families of the plaintiffs as well as the lead attorneys and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Obama hosted the group, including lawyers Jack Greenberg and William Coleman, in the White House East Room. Greenberg argued the case; Coleman was a leading legal strategist.
In a statement, Obama said the decision, issued on May 17, 1954, was “the first major step in dismantling the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that justified Jim Crow,” the racial segregation laws that were in place at the state and local level across the South.
“As we commemorate this historic anniversary, we recommit ourselves to the long struggle to stamp out bigotry and racism in all their forms,” Obama said. “We reaffirm our belief that all children deserve an education worthy of their promise. And we remember that change did not come overnight, that it took many years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God’s children.”
Obama pledged to never forget the men, women and children who took “extraordinary risks in order to make our country more fair and more free.”
“Today, it falls on us to honor their legacy by taking our place in their march and doing our part to perfect the union we love,” he said.
First lady Michelle Obama on Friday was observing the anniversary by visiting Topeka, Kansas, site of the lawsuit that initiated the case. She was meeting with high school students in a college preparatory program and delivering remarks at a pre-graduation event for seniors in the Topeka Public School District