U event reflects on historic Supreme Court decision

by Kori Koch

A University-held lecture symposium on race relations ended Wednesday. The series was scheduled this week to commemorate the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education II.

Since Monday, three nationally recognized researchers spoke about racial differences in the U.S. education system 50 years after the historic decision.

The 1955 court decision sped up the process of school desegregation.

Thomas Pettigrew, a University of California, Santa Cruz psychology professor, delivered the final lecture Wednesday at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Pettigrew said that although much has already been done to desegregate schools, more work is needed to further equalize the educational opportunities for all students.

“Racial segregation in public education is now rapidly increasing, and the Supreme Court has virtually, without saying so, overturned the opposition,” Pettigrew said.

The event was sponsored by the Office of the Senior Vice President for System Administration and the University of Minnesota Law School.

Approximately 60 people attended the event, said Geoffrey Maruyama, assistant vice president for the office.

Pettigrew said, “We should not celebrate (the case) but instead honor it and dedicate ourselves to this noble vision of an America that is free at last from the shackles of its history.”

After Pettigrew’s lecture, four panelists discussed the issue.

The University of Minnesota did not have an event to honor Brown v. Board of Education I, Maruyama said.

“The Brown I decision, in 1954, said that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” he said.

Maruyama said that people returned a year later because nothing was happening.

“The Brown II decision implemented school desegregation with all deliberate speed,” he said.

Faye Crosby, also a University of California, Santa Cruz psychology professor, spoke Monday.

Crosby discussed affirmative action in education and employment, Maruyama said.

“She analyzed the reasons why people both supported and opposed it,” he said.

John Dovidio, a University of Connecticut psychology professor, spoke Tuesday.

Maruyama said Dovidio spoke about how the opinions white people had about racism tended to contradict their actions.