Fifty-five years ago today Little Rock Central High School was integrated. On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education and ended de jure segregation. The ruling was protested by civilians and government officials. The outcry from white Americans was violent. It took nearly three years to start implementing the historic ruling.
It’s important to remember this today because over half a decade later racism, prejudice, and bigotry disguised, as it always is, as religious, cultural, and traditional beliefs is rearing its ugly head to deny people their civil rights. This year alone we saw folks enthusiastically voice their love for fast-food giants that have supported hateful companies with discriminatory national stances and murderous foreign policies and conservatives drag a young woman’s name through the mud simply because she dared to speak openly about a woman’s need for affordable contraception.
People say that racism is dead since we have a black president and that we don’t need Affirmative Action but every day I see statuses and posts from friends and people I care about describing their experiences with racism and bigotry. I also see the racially motivated hate on the internet against President Obama. We have young black kids being murdered by neighborhood watchmen and the police, followed by a racially charged smear campaign against those very kids.
Lastly, let’s not forget that for 4 years the GOP platform has been to obstruct the recovery of the economy at the expense of the public in order to guarantee that the current president is not reelected. Such extreme hate cannot merely stem from political differences. We, as a people and a nation, have a long, long way to go.
Yet again we are approaching a time when the Supreme Court will have to step in and finally make a decision on one of the many civil rights issues plaguing this nation today. But before this happens, we will have an election and the outcome of that election will determine which justices are seated on that Supreme Court bench when many of these issues come to them.
Civil rights issues in this nation have almost always been decided by the Supreme Court. Public opinion changes with time and if we had let public opinion determine civil rights, the United States would be a very different nation today–one where de jure segregation is legal and interracial marriage illegal.