Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on the 49th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

May 15, 2003




Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the 49th anniversary of the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education:

“On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education rejected a system of inequality in education that many in this country had accepted as a natural state of affairs. Overturning decades of segregation, the unanimous decision stated, ‘We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.’

“The Court’s ruling in Brown was one of the most significant decisions issued in our country’s history. It was the culmination of 100 years of legal challenges to segregated education, from a case filed in Boston in 1849 right up to the four cases consolidated in the Brown decision in 1954. The decision had a monumental impact on human rights struggles worldwide.

“As we approach the 50th Anniversary of Brown, it is clear that access to and equality of education are more vital to success than ever, and we still have a long way to go. Almost 50 years after segregation was declared unconstitutional, many poor and minority children are concentrated in schools that fail to meet their needs.

“The ‘No Child Left Behind Act,’ which passed with bipartisan support, was intended to hold schools accountable while providing them with the resources needed to improve their performance. Yet the ink was barely dry on the bill when it became clear that the Bush Administration had no intention of providing the funding authorized in the new law, preferring instead to squeeze public services and provide tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

“The Administration’s proposed budget shortchanges disadvantaged schools and special education students, cuts after school programs and bilingual education, and completely eliminates many programs, ranging from dropout prevention to rural education. The budget proposed by House Republicans also fails to provide adequate funding for the No Child Left Behind Act.

“We must reject all forms of unequal education in this country. All children should have the opportunity to learn and grow to their full potential. America has the resources to provide all children with a good public education, and we cannot afford to do anything less.”


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