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House Approves Brown v. Board of Education Anniversary Commission

On June 27, the House approved, 414-2, legislation (H.R. 2133) that would establish a federal commission to commemorate the 50th anniversary, on May 17, 2004, of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka. The unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 determined that racial segregation in the public schools violated the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment, and therefore was unconstitutional. The decision overturned the “separate but equal” precedent set by the high court 60 years earlier.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS), the bill would authorize $250,000 over FY2003 and FY2004 to set up a commission to work with the U.S. Department of Education and the Brown Foundation in Topeka, Kans., to plan and coordinate activities that would promote awareness of the importance of the 1954 decision. The commission would be made up of members from the U.S. Department of Education, the Brown Foundation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Also included would be Members of Congress from each of the jurisdictions in which the lawsuits decided by the Brown decision were originally filed: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts.

“How different our education and our lives would have been had we not had the opportunity to fight against segregated and unequal schools,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

“The court’s opinion in Brown v. Board of Education has touched all of us,” concurred Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD).

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