Finley Lecture to Mark Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

Posted: June 9, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

The George Mason University Libraries and the Department of History and Art History will host the 2004 Finley Lecture on Sept. 23 to mark the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The 1954 landmark case resulted in the unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down racial segregation in public school systems.

Roger Wilkins, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture, will be the panel discussion moderator for the event. Wilkins is a former U.S. assistant attorney general, has written for the Washington Post and the New York Times, and is currently a board member for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. The event will also feature readings from the George Mason University Libraries’ C. Harrison Mann Collection of legislative and personal papers. Mann, who served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1954 to 1970, sponsored bills establishing George Mason College as a branch of the University of Virginia and later elevating it to a four-year division of the university.

While delivering the Supreme Court’s decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren remarked, “Does 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? We believe that it does.” He also went on to say, “[The court] conclude[s] that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka effectively began the process of ending legally enforced racial segregation throughout large parts of the United States and is considered to be one of the key events in the 20th century civil rights movement in the United States.

For more information on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, click here.

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