70 years ago, Brown v. Board of Education established that it was unconstitutional to racially segregate students in public schools. Today, its legacy looms large over the landscape of American education, but for many, its promise of equality has remained unrealized.

Basic Black host Tanisha Sullivan was joined by a panel of experts to discuss the legacy of Brown v. Board, and the issues faced by Black and brown students and educators in the commonwealth today.

The panelists included Devin Morris, co-founder and executive director of The Teachers' Lounge, Erika Richmond Walton, a litigation fellow for Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, Phillip Martin, senior investigative reporter for GBH News, and Ronald Mitchell, editor, publisher, and co-owner of the Bay State Banner.

While the Supreme Court decision unequivocally demanded the integration of schools, astudy from USC and Stanford found that there was a pronounced increase in school segregation since 1988, particularly in large school districts with significant numbers of Black students.

Three Black lawyers hold hands and smile as they stand on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
FILE - This May 17, 1954, file photo shows, from left, George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall and James M. Nabrit joining hands as they pose outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The three lawyers led the fight for abolition of segregation in public schools.

“Brown v. Board was good intentioned, poor application, but it was because what we rushed to do was not include the voices of those who we were seeking to support. Black voices, Black students, Black families, and Black educators were not a part of the process of the implementation,” said Devin Morris.

In Boston, any mention of METCO and busing, a methodology of desegregating via busing Black and brown students to better-resourced school districts, will raise a similar chorus of approval and dissent.

“We’re seeing that while laws, policies, METCO exist, mentalities have not changed, and the stereotypes relating to Black and brown children are still very pervasive in the schools and in the educators that they are being sent to, and that is causing the trauma due to these un-culturally competent environments,” said Erika Richmond Walton.

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