Glenn F. Ivey grew up in Rocky Mount, N.C., and Dale City, Va. Ivey, 43, was elected Prince George's state's attorney in 2002.
Brown had an impact on nearly every aspect of my life. Even though the Supreme Court decided Brown years before I was born in 1961, the schools were still segregated in my hometown of Rocky Mount, N.C., when I started school.
School officials had tried to begin the desegregation process by sending a few black students to white schools -- the Jackie Robinson approach.
But things had not gone well. So they decided to try putting black teachers in white schools instead. My mother was one of the first, and she worked at four different white schools without incident. At the same time, my dad began working for Manpower, a federal War on Poverty agency that helped unemployed workers in eastern North Carolina get job training and find jobs.
By the time we moved to Dale City, everything in Northern Virginia was already integrated -- schools, neighborhoods, pools. Ironically, one school I attended, Mills E. Godwin Middle School, was named for one of the leaders of the massive resistance movement in southeastern Virginia -- where the public schools were shut down entirely to avoid integration.
Later, I decided I wanted to be a public service lawyer, in part because Brown showed the impact law can have on social justice. That's also why I have spent most of my career working in government -- as a prosecutor, a regulator and as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill.
I understand that without the Brown decision and the civil rights movement, I would not have been blessed with so many wonderful educational and employment opportunities. In fact, there's an entire generation of leaders in the public and private sectors who would not have been given a chance to succeed if they'd been born a few decades earlier.
The next step is to make sure the doors of opportunity are truly open to all. Clearly, there's still more work to be done. But Brown reminds us how much can be accomplished when we work together.