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Three lawyers in Brown II case.

Lawyers George Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James Nabrit celebrate their legal defense win after the court's ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Ending segregation in public schools

U to host three-day symposium on race relations

By Pauline Oo

On May 17, 1954, the headline "Segregation in Schools is Outlawed" splashed across the front page of The Russell Daily News in Kansas. The banner heading--which also appeared in newspapers throughout the United States (carrying the same message but stated slightly differently)--marked the end of the Brown v. Board of Education case at the Federal District Court in Topeka, Kansas, and signaled the rise of the civil rights movement and affirmative action in the nation.

The Brown v. Board of Education litigation made history because it was five separate cases bundled under the name of one of them (Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas); plaintiffs argued that separate educational facilities based on race went against the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees all citizens "equal protection of the laws."

A year after the Supreme Court's unanimous decision--that school segregation was unconstitutional--the court heard additional arguments on the decree implementing the ruling. This court's decision on this second case, better known as Brown v. Board of Education II, accelerated the desegregation timetable. The University's Office of the Senior Vice President for System Administration and Law School are hosting a three-day symposium on the Twin Cities campus to mark this second occasion. "With All Deliberate Speed: Race Relations 50 years After Brown II" will be held May 2 to 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. each day in Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey Center.

"The second decision was the one that actually put the teeth into Brown because it essentially said, 'we want the schools desegregated with all deliberate speed,'" says Geoff Maruyama, assistant vice president of system administration and educational psychology professor. "Before that, there was no time line that would justify imposing sanctions against cities or schools that chose to ignore the court's decision."

The Brown case

The Brown v. Board of Education comprised five cases--from Delaware, Kansas, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Virginia--all of which challenged the constitutionality of racial segregation in public schools. To learn more about the history of Brown v. Board of Education, see Library of Congress.

The symposium will feature a public lecture and panel discussion each day. On Monday, May 2, Faye Crosby, a University of California psychology professor and author of several books on affirmative action, will present "Affirmative Action and Employment: What's the Story?" On Tuesday, John Dovidio, a professor from the University of Connecticut, will speak "On the Nature of Prejudice: Fifty Years after Brown II." And on Wednesday, Thomas Pettigrew, an expert on school desegregation from the University of California, will address the topic of continuing racial differences in "Still a Long Way to Go: American Black-White Relations Today."

"This series [of lectures] spin off Brown but they look at effects of the Brown decisions more broadly," says Maruyama, by posing such questions as "are we living in a non-racist society or is there still prejudice and racism, how have things changed, and how equal are things right now?"

The symposium is free--and you can choose to attend one or all the lectures--but registration is requested. (There will be a reception in the Humphrey Center atrium after each event.) E-mail solo0008@umn.edu with your name, phone number, and days you wish to attend.

"I hope people [who attend this symposium] go away with a better understanding of race relations today, the complexity of the issues, and what the persistent challenges are-what's changed and what still remains to be changed," says Maruyama.

For more information about the symposium, see Brown II conference.

Additionally, the Law School is hosting two conferences. "With All Deliberate Speed: Brown II and Desegregation's Children" on May 5 will explore the litigation strategy that created the Brown II opinion and the decision's effect on society, as well as discuss future trends in primary, secondary, and higher education. Tickets are $50. For a complete agenda, see www.law.umn.edu. On May 6-7, "Race and Regionalism" will explore new legal and empirical scholarship about race as it has developed in different regions of the country and discuss the possibility of developing coalitions for regional reform among people of all races. The registration fee is $180; $20 for students ($100 for a single day). For the full agenda , see www.irpumn.org.

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