The 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education: Columbia President Lee Bollinger Reflects on its Threatened Legacy

May 12, 2014

May 17 marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education overruling the doctrine of “separate but equal” public education and finding that racially segregated public schools violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Columbia Law School faculty and alumni played an active role in this history by serving on Thurgood Marshall’s NAACP legal team for Brown and other pioneering civil rights litigation.

In more recent years, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger has been deeply engaged in major civil rights cases involving higher education that are among the contemporary legacies of Brown. As law dean and then president at the University of Michigan, Bollinger was a central figure in the 2003 Supreme Court cases—Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger—which upheld and clarified the importance of diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action in higher education.