The unanimous May 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education
grew out of a lawsuit filed by the parents of children who attended
segregated schools in Topeka, Kansas. The court overturned the
doctrine of "separate but equal" that allowed communities and
businesses to maintain separate facilities for whites and blacks.
Despite the ruling, many communities resisted school desegregation.
In the south, some officials shut schools down rather than integrate
The civil rights movement unfolded over many years and finally
scored landmark victories in the mid-1960s, after mass protests
caught the attention of the country and Congress passed legislation
guaranteeing voting and civil rights.
"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 in a statement.
"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," he added.
As the first U.S. president of African ancestry, Obama, who was born
years after the court decision, is himself seen as a milestone on
the path toward racial equality in the United States.
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The president met at the White House with the families and
plaintiffs in the historic case, along with surviving attorneys Jack
Greenberg and William Coleman and members of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Legal Defense
Fund. The meeting was closed to the media.
The president's wife, Michelle, visited the formerly all-black
Monroe School in Topeka, where the children whose families filed the
lawsuit were students, on Friday.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by David Gregorio)
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