Niagara Gazette


May 22, 2013

BRADBERRY: Peaceful place to learn, to think


Niagara Gazette — He sat for 13 terms, including the term when Brown v Board was argued prior to his resignation when he left the Court to serve as the American Chief of Counsel prosecuting principal Nazi leaders before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

Jackson disapproved of segregation, though he apparently had reservations about “judicial activism” and the enforceability of the law, nevertheless he joined the rest of the Court, making it a hard fought, but unanimous decision before his departure.

Basically, the Court held that the so-called principle of “separate but equal” which was the law of the land based on a previous Supreme Court ruling in a 1896 case known as Plessy v Ferguson, was unconstitutional.

The Court essentially asked whether segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities.

And the Court answered, “We believe that it does ... We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Today, 60 years later, after decades of attempts to implement the law, it looks to some, that Jackson may have been correct about his reservations; we still have not been able to entirely implement the law if indeed, its real purpose was to completely end segregation in public education.

There are still to this day, hundreds of segregated schools, though, of course, many have effectively ended the legally enforced version of the practice based solely on race; today segregation is more likely the result of class, not just race, but the results are the same as they were 60 years ago for many.

If the true objective of Brown v Board was to ensure equal access to equal education and, if we measure the effectiveness of implementation by the outcomes, we appear to have a long way to go; graduation and drop-out rates, especially among African American males in particular are still far from acceptable.

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