Archive for Saturday, May 8, 2004

Bush to attend Brown v. Board event in Topeka

May 8, 2004

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— President Bush will visit Topeka for the May 17 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the offices of U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback and U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun said Friday.

"This is not just a celebration of the contributions made by Oliver Brown and the state of Kansas," Ryun said, "this is a celebration of all those who fought to rid our society of the atrocious practice of separate and unequal public schooling.

On the anniversary, the National Park Service is scheduled to open an $11.3 million historic site in the former Monroe School, once one of four all-black elementary schools in Topeka.

A White House spokesman, Jim Morrell, told the Topeka Capital-Journal he expected Bush to fly into Topeka the day of the anniversary and offer remarks at the 11 a.m. dedication ceremony.

In 1951, in an effort organized by Topeka civil rights activists, several black families tried to enroll their children in white schools near their homes, and their requests were denied. Thirteen black families, including the Browns, became plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit.

School desegregation cases from Virginia, South Carolina and Delaware were appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court along with the Topeka case, and they were decided collectively in the Brown ruling, in which the Supreme Court ruled "separate but equal" schools were unconstitutional.

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