Skip to main content
"The Library" painting by Jacob Lawrence

Brown at 70: Reflections and the Road Forward

Brown at 70: Reflections and the Road Forward

In the 70 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the pursuit of educational equity has seen major strides forward and significant pushbacks. What progress has been made, what can be learned from setbacks, and what can be done to ensure all students to have the opportunity to learn? Some of the country’s leading education and civil rights researchers ask these questions in a collection of papers released in conjunction with the anniversary.

Facing the Rising Sun: Black Teachers’ Positive Impact Post-Brown

Travis J. Bristol, University of California, Berkeley and Desiree Carver-Thomas, Learning Policy Institute

A large body of research shows the positive impacts Black teachers have on the academic and social outcomes of Black students, students of color, White students, and White teachers. What are key ways that education policy and practice can be developed to effectively recruit, develop, and retain Black teachers?

Brown at 70: Progress, Pushback, and Policies that Matter

Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute and Sean Darling-Hammond, University of California, Los Angeles

While progress has occurred since the Brown decision, each major advance toward greater equality has been accompanied by strong pushback. Given the current status of equity in education and in the country, what policies matter to establish a system of equitable and adequate education for all?

Reclaiming the Promise of Brown: The Integration of Desegregation & School Funding Reform

Rucker C. Johnson, University of California, Berkeley and National Bureau of Economic Research and Ary Amerikaner, Brown’s Promise

The vision embodied in Brown encompasses a commitment to racial integration, and yet, while the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of America’s schoolchildren have never been greater, entrenched resegregation of public schools has returned segregation to levels that prevailed in the early 1970s. To reverse the trends, it is important to bring together knowledge on school finance and desegregation, and to attend to the roles that race plays in these arenas.

But What About the Teachers? The Forgotten Narratives of Black Teachers in the Midst of Brown

Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Much of the discussion concerning Brown rightly focuses on the impact on students. But what about Black teachers? Some 35,000 Black teachers lost their jobs in the U.S. South following the decision and countless others were demoted, especially administrators. What was the cost of Brown for Black teachers and other educators and how does that link to the current shortage of Black teachers?

The Complex Braid of Brown: How Conceptualizations and Initiatives Within the African American Community of Research, Practice and Activism Have Influenced the Advance of Knowledge and Practice in Education

Carol D. Lee, Northwestern University

The Brown decision can be considered as a metaphor for a revolutionary understanding of American society: that peoples of African descent have from the inception of the nation been essential as powerful levers of change, compelling the nation to wrestle in dynamic ways with the complex challenges presented by our democratic system of governance. In the field of education specifically, many of the expansive goals we seek to address today have been informed by proactive work within African-American education.

Brown v. Board of Education and the Democratic Purposes of Public Education

Kent McGuire, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The core premise of the seminal Brown court decision was to give rise, through education, to a vibrant multiracial democracy. As part of that promise, preparing young people for citizenship should be a central purpose of our education system. However, embracing the democratizing purpose of public education requires new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.

Where Do We Go From Here? Assessing the Limits and Possibilities of Education for Black People in the U.S., 70 Years after Brown

Joaquín M. S. Noguera, Loyola Marymount University and Pedro A. Noguera, University of Southern California

Throughout most of history in the United States, Black people have viewed education as critical to freedom, prosperity, and justice. Unfortunately, in policy, the justice system, and practice, race and racial inequality continue to shape the experience of Black students in schools and educational institutions throughout the country. What educational change strategies are most likely to make it possible for justice and equality to be fulfilled?

The Dream of Integration & the Politics of Resegregation: The Continuing Battle over the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education

Gary Orfield, University of California, Los Angeles

Seventy years of history since Brown encompass many political changes, with 18 presidential terms and historic changes in the nation’s population: A society with more than 80% White students at the time of Brown has become a society with a majority of non-White students. Desegregation produced major lasting gains in the short period of time it was seriously implemented and many experiences were positive. What were the politics and policies that reversed this momentum? Understanding how to further school integration requires understanding the history and politics that drove changes.

A Timeline of the African American Struggle for Desegregation and Equity Prior to and Since the Brown v. Board of Education Decision

Kenneth A. Wesson, Educational Consultant, California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators

A timeline of American history and its impacts on Black education underscores how these events have undeniably shaped the American story in many ways. Political events, legislation, court decisions, and cultural and social practices have intersected continuously to weave a uniquely Black experience into the American fabric that deserves exploration, recognition, and ultimately, admiration.


This series was written for the Spencer Foundation, the Learning Policy Institute, and the California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators.

Image detail: Jacob Lawrence, The Library © 2024 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York