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Abstract

This fiftieth anniversary gives us a chance to measure whether the promise of Brown has been fulfilled, to take stock of the progress we've made toward racial equality, and yet recognize, unblinkingly, the important work that we still have to do. Without a doubt, the impact of Brown has been so profound that it is hard to imagine how things could have been otherwise. We witness the effects of Brown when we ride a train, eat at a restaurant, or go to the beach. Thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which was the codification of Brown), our workplaces are some of the most racially integrated spaces in our society. But Brown itself was a case about public schools, so today I'd like to focus on education, which the Supreme Court rightly regarded as the most important institution we have for sustaining our democracy. Fifty years after Brown declared a right which must be made available to all on equal terms, it is time for us to reconsider not only the promise, but whether we have been true to that promise.

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