BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION 50th ANNIVERSARY RESOLUTIONIn 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the course of our nation's history. The court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education overturned the doctrine of "separate but equal" in our country's public schools and affirmed the right of educational equality for all, regardless of race.
The decision energized the civil rights movement, sparking a wave of civil rights rulings and legislation, and forever altering race relations in the United States. Brown helped tear down barriers that limited opportunity and stunted aspirations of generations of African-Americans.
But change has come slowly, and, 50 years after the Brown ruling, the nation has not fulfilled the promise of equality. Today, many schools are segregated--including some that were integrated just decades before. Far too many poor and minority children are relegated to attending schools with learning environments so inferior as to enrage one's sense of justice. The resulting achievement gap between white and minority youngsters must be closed.
The American Federation of Teachers always has been committed to social justice, even when that position was dangerous and politically unpopular. From being among the first trade unions to extend full membership to minorities; to being the only education organization to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Brown case; to key involvement in the March on Washington, Freedom Rides, and civil rights legislation of the 1960s, the AFT has been a leader. Equality and justice have always been at the center of the AFT's mission.
Accordingly, the AFT resolves to take the following steps to help our nation realize the promise of Brown and, in so doing, bring our great democracy closer to its first principles:
- The AFT will continue to promote programs and policies that will help close the achievement gap, promote access and eliminate barriers to educational opportunity for all of America's children.
- The AFT will identify, publicize and challenge inequalities that still exist.
- The AFT will stand, as it did in 1954, with others who are committed to ensuring that all of America's children receive the high-quality education to which they are entitled.
- The AFT will continue to oppose discrimination in all its forms--whether based on race, gender or economic status.
[AFT Executive Council, Feb. 2004]