It is time to fulfill the promise of Brown v. Board of Education and of equal opportunity for all.
Sixty years ago, on May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the most important decision of the 20th Century. The unanimous Brown decision is best known for upholding equal opportunity and outlawing school segregation policies. Equally important, it overthrew the Jim Crow “separate but equal” doctrine upholding segregation in all aspects of life, from jobs, to buses, to drinking fountains.
Today, this country is witnessing a New Jim Crow that fosters both racial and economic inequities. Segregated schools and housing are the norm. Voting rights are under attack. Mass incarceration is destroying families and communities. Deadly “stand-your-ground” and “castle doctrine” laws are proliferating. Deportations and anti-immigrant prejudice are on the rise.
In education, the Milwaukee region has long ignored Brown’s proclamation that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” We’ve also taken the abandonment of Brown to a new level. We are abandoning the very institution of public education.
We all know that our public schools can, and must, do a better job educating all children.
But we must never forget that the Milwaukee Public Schools remains the only education institution in this city with the capacity, the commitment, and the legal obligation to educate all children.
Today, Milwaukee’s future cannot be viewed solely through a Black-White prism. In line with national trends, Latinos are the fastest-growing non-white community. Milwaukee is also home to a significant Hmong population, and to immigrants from across the globe, from Somalia, to Myanmar, to Sri Lanka.
More than ever, Milwaukee’s future is linked to the entire region. Segregation and inequities undermine the common good throughout our metropolitan area.
We commit ourselves to a revitalized civil rights movement, recognizing the inherent links between strong public schools, healthy communities, and a multiracial democracy. It is time to fulfill the promise of Brown.
Please join us. On May 17, the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision, Schools and Communities United will be working to reignite this movement. It will begin with a Unity Parade at 10 a.m. starting at Martin Luther King Park on 14th & Vliet St. and go to Milwaukee High School of the Arts, 2300 W Highland Blvd., where the “Fulfill the Promise” Program will take place. This will be followed by a working lunch and organizing session bringing together teams of parents, educators, community members to meet with elected officials and community leaders for a call to action. For more information or to register, visit our website.