May 17, 1954
SUPREME COURT RULES RACIAL SEGREGATION IN PUBLIC EDUCATION UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The United States Supreme Court today ruled by majority vote that racial segregation in public education is a violation of the United States Constitution.
The unanimous ruling was announced by Chief Justice Earl Warren of California.
The decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka overturns the 1896 “Plessy v. Ferguson” decision. While that case centered on segregation in rail transportation, the ruling was applied to public education facilities as well.
The 1896 ruling said that as long as facilities were “separate but equal” there was no violation of constitutional principles. As a matter of practice, however, facilities were “separate” but never “equal”.
The Brown case was initiated by the NAACP in behalf Linda Brown, a 3rd grader in Topeka, Kansas who was denied admission to her local elementary school because of her race.
The Browns were represented by a group of attorneys led by Thurgood Marshall.*
*A year later the Court issues guidelines for desegregation of public schools calling for compliance “with all deliberate speed”.
May 17, 1962
JFK RESPONDS TO QUESTION ON BROWN V. BOARD
President John F. Kennedy was asked the following question at his news conference today in the State Department Auditorium:
“Today is the 8th anniversary of the Supreme Court desegregation decision. Do you feel that progress in this area has been rapid enough?”
“I think we can always hope more progress can be made in the cause of civil rights, or equal opportunity. There is a good deal left undone, & while progress has been made, I think we can always improve equality of opportunity in the United States.”
JFK At His News Conference
May 17, 1961
PRESIDENT KENNEDY SPEAKS TO CANADIAN PARLIAMENT IN OTTAWA
On the 2nd day of his visit to Canada, President Kennedy today addressed the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
He told the representatives of the people of Canada:
“what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”
Then he told this humorous story.
“Nearly 40 years ago, a distinguished Prime Minister of this country said (about Americans):
‘They may not be angels but they are at least our friends’.”
I must say that I think in these days where hazard is our constant companion that friends are a very good thing to have.”
Photo by David Samuel (2010)
May 17, 1973
WATERGATE COMMITTEE HEARINGS BEGIN
The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, better known as the Watergate Committee, began its hearings today on Capitol Hill.
The session today was televised live across the nation. The major television & radio networks are planning to provide “gavel to gavel” coverage of the hearings.
The committee is chaired by North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin. Senator Ervin introduced himself as “just an old country lawyer”.
The Vice-Chairman of the Watergate Committee is Tennessee Senator Howard Baker.*
Howard Baker & Sam Ervin
Senate Select Committee (1973)
Library of Congress Photo
The main focus of the hearings will be to investigate the break-in of the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Complex prior to the Presidential election of 1972 & the possible “cover-up” of the involvement of members of President Nixon’s staff or even the President himself.
*I had the pleasure to meet Senator Baker in a workshop for teachers sponsored by the Howard Baker Center at the University of Tennessee.
On the 1st day of the workshop, Mr. Baker gave a wonderful speech & took questions.
I asked Senator Baker:
“When I was graduate student at UT in 1973 many of us thought when Vice-President Agnew resigned President Nixon might choose you to be Vice-President. Did you think you might be chosen & if so how did you feel when you were not?”
Senator Baker responded that yes he did think he might be chosen &…
“I was disappointed that I wasn’t chosen because I saw it as an opportunity to serve the nation”.
While Senator Baker is a Republican, I’m sure JFK would have loved his answer.
Alan Lowe, Director*
Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.
John White with a fellow teacher
“Teaching Congress & the Presidency”
Summer Institute for Teachers 2005
Photo by Nissa Dahlin-Brown**
*now Director of the G.W. Bush Library
**now Associate Director Baker Center
May 17, 1974
LAPD RAIDS SLA HIDEOUT, KILLS SIX
The Los Angeles Police Department surrounded a home today which served as a hideout for the Symbionese Liberation Army or SLA.
The terrorist group was responsible for the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, daughter of The Hearst Publishing Company’s Randolph Hearst.
Patty was later photographed with an assault weapon assisting the SLA in a bank robbery.
Patty Hearst with SLA Insignia
500 police officers took part in the raid shooting 1200 rounds of ammunition into the house & setting it on fire.
When the fire was out, 6 deceased bodies of SLA members were found including SLA leader Donald De Freeze, also known as “Cinque”.
Patty Hearst was not in the house at the time of the raid.*
*Patty Hearst was found & arrested on September 19, 1975.
Patty Hearst’s Mug Shot