Law Day 2004 to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education Decision
CHICAGO, April 16, 2004 – In 1954’s landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled the “separate but equal” legal doctrine unconstitutional, marking one of most significant events in the civil rights movement in the United States. Fifty years later, what sort of legacy does this historic case have for modern American society? How did the lawyers involved in Brown effectively argue the case for equal protection for all Americans? What did Brown ultimately achieve, and what was its impact on future constitutional law cases?
These are some of the issues to be explored on Law Day, May 1, with its theme “To Win Equality by Law: Brown v. Board at 50.”
“On Law Day and on the 50th anniversary of Brown, I think that our nation can, as a whole, reflect on and consider how we might as a country and how we might as a people appreciate the contributions that ethnic minorities have made to the world and American civilization,” said ABA President Dennis W. Archer. “If we are to be competitive and to work with one another and cause the world to be a better place in which to live, it is important that we have respect for one another and the rule of law.”
David A. Collins, National Law Day chair, noted that, “Brown showed that resolute citizens, served by dedicated lawyers, can strike powerful blows against social injustice through law and the courts.”
Law Day was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958. It celebrates the American heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law, and provides an opportunity to help students and the public understand how the law protects their freedoms. More than just a day to reflect on the nation’s legal heritage, Law Day is a call to action that often encompasses weeks of programs and activities conducted by schools, bar associations, courts and civic groups.
Town hall meetings, school events, speeches and essay contests are a few of the many ways Law Day will be observed. The following is a list of some of the upcoming Law Day programs and activities around the country. A complete list can be found at the Division for Public Education Law Day Web site at www.abanet.org/publiced/lawday/events/home.html, or by calling the Public Education Division at 312/988-5735.
NATIONAL LAW DAY ACTIVITIES –WASHINGTON, D.C.
Monday, April 26
9:00 –10:30 a.m.
Breakfast Seminar for Close Up Teachers
National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW
The ABA joins the Close Up Foundation to sponsor a breakfast for teachers with their students from around the country. Robert Cottrol, the Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and Professor of History and Sociology at George Washington University and co-author of Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution, will be the featured speaker at the breakfast.
Tuesday, April 27
11 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
7th Annual “Conversations with Leaders in Education, Law and Media”
Newseum Rooftop Studio, 1101 W. Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va.
This event, a cooperative program with the Close Up Foundation, will feature a panel discussion on “Why is Brown Significant?” It will be taped for broadcast on “Close Up on C-SPAN.” Panelists include Mary Futrell, dean of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and former president of the National Education Association; Juan Williams, senior correspondent, National Public Radio and author, Thurgood Marshall — American Revolutionary; and James Oliver Horton, Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History, George Washington University. The event will also include a presentation of the first-place Images of Freedom student photography award by ABA President-elect Robert Grey and National Law Day Chair David Collins.
Tuesday, April 27
4:45 -7:30 p.m.
The Leon Jaworski Public Program: “Representing the American Lawyer as Citizen”
Library of Congress, James Madison Building, Montpelier Room (6 th Floor), Independence Ave. (between First and Second Avenues), Washington, D.C.
In cooperation with the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the Law Library of Congress, the Friends of the Law Library of Congress and the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, this fifth and final program of the ABA’s Leon Jaworski Public Program Series focuses on “The Lawyer in American Culture: Representing the American Lawyer as Citizen.” ABA President-elect Robert J. Grey will preside over the event. Lincoln Caplan, Yale Law School Knight senior journalist and president of Legal Affairs, will serve as moderator. Phillip K. Howard, vice-chairman of Covington & Burling and founder and president of Common Good; Wendy Kaminer, contributing editor, The Atlantic Monthly; Austin D. Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College; and L. Douglas Wilder, professor of public policy at the Virginia Commonwealth University and former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be featured panelists.
SELECTED STATE AND LOCAL LAW DAY ACTIVITIES
Video Contest –State Bar of Arizona Law Day events include a Law Day Video Contest. Open to high school students statewide. The contest is to develop a 30-second public service announcement on Brown. The winning team of students will be interviewed on the local NBC affiliate mid-day program and receive a tour of the television studios.
“Heroes of Equality” Contest –Alaska’s statewide Law Day exhibit is entitled “Equality’s Super Heroes,” and invites students in all communities to submit portraits of people who have made significant contributions to the struggle for equality by law.
Dialogue on Brown and Liberty Bell Presentation –In Las Vegas, the Clark County Bar Association will celebrate Law Day with two planned activities: Dialogue on Brown and presenting the Liberty Bell Award to a member of the local community.
Contests –The Texas State Bar is coordinating essay, photo and poster contests throughout the state.
“Separate No More” Drama –A special drama, Separate No More, will be presented in the Supreme Court of Alabama on May 6 – 8, with both day and evening performances.
Town Hall Meeting – Students will participate in a town hall meeting at the S.C. Educational TV studios to discuss the legacy of Brown and South Carolina’s own Briggs v. Elliott (one of the cases consolidated in Brown), as well as focus on where we go from here.
IMAGES OF FREEDOM PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION
Winners of the annual contest for students 12 to 18 years old are:
FIRST PRIZE: Jennifer Mills, age 17, 11th Grade, Piper High School, Kansas City, Kan. Her entry, “Living the Dream,” depicts a harmonious playground scene superimposed over the image of a courtroom. Mills says that her photo shows that “students of different races appreciate the opportunity of attending school together and do not let skin color come between friendship, especially on the playground!”
SECOND PLACE: Matt Kelling, age 16, 10th Grade, Piper High School, Kansas City, Kan. His photo, titled “Through One’s Hands,” shows school textbooks being supported by two hands. Kelling says his photo illustrates “the effect of Brown v. Board of Education because it demonstrates the equal opportunity that you have in school no matter what your skin color is.”
THIRD PLACE: Renee Johnson, age 16, 10th Grade, Hidden Valley High School, Grants Pass, Ore. Her entry, “Passport to Equality,” shows an African American judge handing books over to a young African American girl on the steps of a courthouse. About her photo, Johnson says, “With the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, African American children were given the first stamp on their passport to equal opportunity. Now, 50 years later, an African American judge, having traveled a road made available by the spirit of equality through the law, is able to give the same opportunity for liberty, justice and education to the generations that follow.”
Spenser Hinkle, age 16, 11th Grade, Piper High School, Kansas City, Kan.
James F. Bates, age 18, 12th Grade, Colville High School, Colville, Wash.
Hilary Yost, age 16, 10th Grade, Piper High School, Kansas City, Kan.
The photos can be viewed online at the Law Day Web site: www.abanet.org/publiced/imagescontest/home.html.
LAW DAY POSTER
A poster commemorating Law Day and its theme of “To Win Equality by Law: Brown v. Board at 50″ can be viewed and ordered online at: www.abanet.org/publiced/lawday/store_posters.html. This collage of strong black-and-white images encapsulates the struggle to desegregate the schools and marks the historic significance of Brown v. Board of Education.
The mission of the ABA Division for Public Education is to promote public understanding of law and its role in society. The division conducts conferences and seminars; publishes periodicals, books, and other resources; sponsors awards programs; serves as a national information clearinghouse; and provides technical assistance to educators, lawyers, and others.
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