Leadership Conference Statement on the Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

Contact: Mattie Goldman, [email protected]

WASHINGTON – Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the state of racial equity in education on the 69th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education:

“Almost seven decades ago, in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rightly ruled that racial segregation is inconsistent with equality and has no place in America. Since then, we have seen the progress students of all backgrounds make when they receive the quality education they deserve. Yet sadly, too many students of color, particularly Black and Latino students, still sit in over-crowded classrooms, are criminalized for making childhood mistakes, and are denied access to the courses they deserve to advance economically. Students of color face high rates of suspension and corporal punishment and are excluded from college readiness classes — and when they pursue college, they bear the disproportionate burden of our debt-financed system of higher education. This is not the legacy that Brown v. Board promised.

“We owe all students in this country the opportunity to attend class without the threat of arrest, to learn in environments free of discrimination, and to have access to the supplies, courses, and instruction they need to thrive. Curriculum bans seek to erase our history, but it is crucial for our national future that students have access to an education that prepares them to succeed, to exercise their social, political, and economic rights, and to thoughtfully examine the whole truth of our history and how it reverberates today. We must use every policy tool at our disposal to advance racial justice and provide safe, healthy, and inclusive school climates for all students.

“The civil rights community has long called for solutions to advance quality education to create school climates where every child is treated with dignity and respect, where they can learn about their history, and where their contributions are valued. While a bigoted few want to turn back the clock on the progress we have made, we continue to fight for a more fair and just country that advances the values held by the overwhelming majority — equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, inclusion, and fairness.”

In March, The Leadership Conference’s Education Task Force released Legislative Priorities for the 118th Congress, which call for increased funding for the Office for Civil Rights, robust funding for early care and education, and restructuring the systems of debt-financed higher education, among other priorities.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.