Over 500 marched, rallied, and organized to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education, which made the promise of racially integrated public schools with its famed declaration: Separate is not equal.
One of the MCs, Izmira Aitch, started the program off by saying, “We know, we live, on a daily basis, how separate and unequal our schools still are. By celebrating public education on the anniversary of Brown v. Board in Milwaukee, one of the most segregated cities in the country, we invite our communities and our state to re-join the struggle to achieve equal opportunity and high quality public schools for all.”
“My students-all students-my daughter when she’s of age -- they all deserve a quality public education. Funding should be fair. Just because a child is born in a certain zip code should not determine whether he or she has small classes, a full time librarian, art, music and physical education, or adequate athletic facilities,” said Kathy Xiong, special education teacher at Burbank School in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). “Let us dismantle the racial and economic segregation and inequality in Milwaukee and create the schools and communities that our children deserve.”
Keynote speaker, Donna Brazile, spoke about segregation and discrimination, saying "Remember 60 years ago. That was the moment history changed. And we're never going back. We're going forward.” She asked the audience, “Why you? Because there is no one better. Why now? Because tomorrow is not soon enough.”
The program featured an amazingly talented group of MPS students and graduates. Nathan Barachy, an 8th grader at Fernwood Montessori School, and Darlene Johns, a junior at Rufus King IB High School, and the ACLU Youth Civil Libertarian of the Year, read from the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. Kavon Jones, a recent Riverside University High School graduate who will be representing the State of Wisconsin at the National Poetry Slam in Philadelphia in July, performed an original poem. Onaja McKinny, an 8th Grader at Lincoln Middle School, performed a short piece about Ruby Bridges, an American activist known for being the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. Iuscely Flores, a senior at Ronald Reagan IB High School talked about being a DREAMer who will be attending UW-Oshkosh in the fall, and the struggle for the rights of undocumented people. Finally, Teryn Erby-Walker, a 3rd grader at Alcott School performed a speech, thanking previous civil rights leaders, some of whom were in the audience.
The ACLU of Wisconsin is proud to be one of the organizers of this important event, and to fight for the right to a free, quality, public education for all Wisconsin children. Public schools are so important because they continue to be the only educational institution in our community with the capacity, commitment, and legal obligation to serve all students.