Reform Jewish Movement Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board Of Education
Contact:Alexis Rice or David Segal 202.387.2800
Feldman: On this historic anniversary, and as the challenge of racial equality continues, we must work to build a society in which differences are embraced and opportunities made equally available - a society enriched by racial diversity, not segregated by it.
NEW YORK, May 17, 2004 -Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS. Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education marked a historic and legally monumental reversal of the 50-year-old "separate but equal" doctrine and an end to legalized segregation in America. Beyond its legal ramifications, the ruling provided hope and inspiration to those involved in the struggle for racial equality in the United States, both during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s and in the years that followed.
The Reform Jewish Movement has a long history of supporting civil rights and educational opportunity. Most notably, prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the legislation itself was drafted in the conference room of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC by leaders from the Jewish and African American Civil Rights communities. Today the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judaism and its affiliates reaffirm their commitment to fighting for equal rights, an end to discrimination, and universally available quality public education.
Brown proved to be only one step in the long, arduous, and continuing journey toward equality in our nation's schools. Though we have made great strides in the fifty years since that historic decision, the vision of Brown has yet to be fully realized. Schools in many areas of the country are "resegregating," and many public schools, particularly in minority communities, are failing because of inadequate funding, neglect, and violence. As Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, has said, a "two-class education system" still exists.
There is more work to be done. The House and Senate must both take action on the Student Bill of Rights, which would help equalize funding to "provide for adequate and equitable educational opportunities for students in public school systems." We also call on Congress and the Administration to fulfill their commitment to high standards for all children by fully funding the No Child Left Behind Act.
On this historic anniversary, and as the challenge of racial equality continues, we must work to build a society in which differences are embraced and opportunities made equally available - a society enriched by racial diversity, not segregated by it. As Jews, we have known overwhelming discrimination and segregation in our own history as a people. It is therefore particularly imperative that we do all we can to build a society that will leave no one behind. Fifty years later, the Brown case continues to inspire us in the ongoing struggle for social justice.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .