WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Friday marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision by recommitting to "the long struggle to stamp out bigotry and racism in all their forms."
Obama also met Friday in the White House East Room with families of the plaintiffs, lead attorneys Jack Greenberg and William Coleman and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Greenberg argued the case; Coleman was a leading legal strategist.
Obama said in a statement that the decision, issued on May 17, 1954, was "the first major step in dismantling the 'separate but equal' doctrine that justified Jim Crow," the racial segregation laws that were in place at the state and local level across the South.
Students, parents and educators rally at the Supreme Court in Washington for the 60th anniversary Brown v. Board of Education decision that struck down the “separate but equal” concept established under Plessy v. Ferguson that kept schools segregated.
"As we commemorate this historic anniversary, we recommit ourselves to the long struggle to stamp out bigotry and racism in all their forms," Obama said. "We reaffirm our belief that all children deserve an education worthy of their promise. And we remember that change did not come overnight, that it took many years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children."
Obama pledged to never forget the men, women and children who took "extraordinary risks in order to make our country more fair and more free."
"Today, it falls on us to honor their legacy by taking our place in their march and doing our part to perfect the union we love," he said.
First lady Michelle Obama observed the anniversary by visiting Topeka, Kansas, site of the lawsuit that initiated the case. She met Friday with high school students in a college preparatory program and delivered remarks at a pre-graduation event for seniors in the Topeka Public School District.