Article Title

Surprising Legacies of Brown v. Board

Publication Title

Washington University Journal of Law & Policy


Perhaps the most powerful legacy of Brown v. Board is this: opponents in varied political battles fifty years later each claim ties to the decision and its meaning. So although the analogy between Brown and same-sex marriage has divided Black clergy, each side vies to inherit the civil rights heritage. President George W. Bush invoked Brown in opposing race-conscious college admission practices. The success of Brown in reshaping the moral landscape has been so profound that I fear we do not fully comprehend its legacies—and may fail to attend sufficiently to continuing controversy and complexities in its wake. I will talk today about legacies that may not be so obvious—after first considering how to understand what Brown did and did not accomplish directly.