This post has been updated.
The landmark civil rights ruling Brown v. Board of Education marks its 60th Anniversary Saturday, and it will be marked with the usual self-appraisals that such moments appropriately prompt.
Sixty years ago, however, the ruling was already recognized for what it was: a landmark decision that could potentially forever change the country.
The day after the ruling came down, the Washington Post ran with an expansive two-deck, eight-column headline on the front page along with two stories on the decision.
“Separate But Equal Doctrine is Thrown Out,” read the headline for the main story. And the second, “Southerners Assail High Court Ruling,” is a useful reminder of how far we’ve come:
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision outlawing segregation in the public schools yesterday brought a swift and bitter protest from key Southern legislators.
Sen. Richard B. Russell (Ga.) head of the Senate’s Southern Democratic caucus angrily charged the Court is becoming the “pliant tool’ of the executive Department, and said: “Ways must be fount to check the tendency of the Court to disregard the Constitution and the precedents of able and unbiased judges…”
In a statement even less temperate, Sen. James O. Eastland (D-Miss.) declared the South “will not abide by nor obey this legislative decision by a political court,” adding: “We will take whatever steps are necessary to retain segregation in education.”
Here is The Post’s editorial, published the day after the Supreme Court’s ruling:
And here is Herb Block’s 1954 cartoon:
And here is the Topeka State Journal’s 1954 front page following the decision:
— J. Freedom du Lac (@jfdulac) May 17, 2014