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Supreme Court school desegregation decision's 60th anniversary honored May 18

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The 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision striking down school segregation, will be honored with a free screening of "Separate But Equal" May 18 at the American Film Institute's AFI Silver Theatre in suburban Washington, D.C.

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The Emmy-award-winning film will be introduced by George Stevens, Jr., who wrote, directed, and produced it. He's also the founding director of AFI.

The first 50 guests for the Sunday May 18 4 P.M. screening will be given a DVD of the 1991 "Separate But Equal" starring:

  • Sidney Poitier as NAACP chief counsel Thurgood Marshall, who argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He became the first African American Supreme Court Justice, and served from October 1967 until October 1991.
  • Burt Lancaster as defense attorney and one-time Democratic Presidential nominee, John W. Davis.
  • Richard Kiley as Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, who served from 1953 to 1969.

The high court's unanimous decision on May 14, 1954 declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the opinion of the Court and stated, "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal..."

The decision "laid the groundwork for all that followed in civil rights history," noted "Washington Post" Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist Colbert I. King in his May 17 editorial. "But law, despite its majesty, has its limits."

King cites 2012 studies by the UCLA Civil Rights Project and summarized, "Today, typical black public school students have less exposure to white students than they did in the 1970s."

To read those studies, click here.

Meanwhile, let's honor the crucial "Brown v. Bd. Ed." decision that laid the groundwork 60 years ago for numerous civil rights advances.

For more info: AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, http://www.afi.com, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, silverinfo@afi.com, 301-495-6720. Official history of Brown v. Board of Education.

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