The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 16, 2014

Court case opened doors

The Commercial-News

---- — Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended segregation of schools in America based on race. The landmark Brown Vs. Board of Education ruling served as one of the first sparks to ignite the civil rights movement.

It might be difficult to believe that 60 short years ago, it was legal in some states to create separate schools for white children and for children of color. A Supreme Court ruling in 1896 allowed it under its “separate but equal” ruling. Such segregated schools, however, rarely could be called equal. Black schools in the deep South often used ramshackle buildings and outdated textbooks.

Those who pushed the case — there were actually five cases rolled under this one heading — to the U.S, Supreme court showed incredible courage.

American citizens of color in the South could not shop in certain stores, eat in certain restaurants or drink from the same water fountains.

The Brown ruling, which said the segregated schools violated the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that guarantees citizens equal protection and rights, kicked open the doors of opportunity.

The United States including Vermilion County and the surrounding area — has not erased the ignorance of prejudice or the hatred of bigotry. But rulings such as Brown have brought about improvements and increased opportunities for success for every American, regardless of color. That’s why this anniversary deserves to be noted and celebrated.