The Unfinished Legacy of Brown v Board of Education at 70

May 6, 2024 at Stanford University

About the conference

On May 6, 2024, the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford and The Stanford Institute for Advancing Just Societies hosted a conference to reflect on the legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and chart the unfinished business of school integration.

May 17, 2024, is the 70th anniversary of the 1954 Brown decision, in which the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that, “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This decision marked a monumental shift in American history and led to a dramatic decline in school segregation from the 1960s to the 1980s. The shift from segregated to more integrated schools significantly changed the course of Black children’s lives, leading to greater educational attainment and better future economic outcomes. But the legacy of the Brown decision faces challenges in today’s increasingly diverse society. Since the late 1980s, progress on addressing segregation has stalled; racial and economic segregation has grown steadily in the last 35 years. Despite clear evidence of the benefits of racial and economic integration, school segregation remains one of the most stubborn social problems of our time.

The conference, led by sean f. reardon (Stanford) and Ann Owens (USC), brought together educators, policymakers, and leading scholars and legal experts to distill the lessons of recent research on segregation and craft a new agenda for addressing racial and economic segregation in American schools.


The State of Segregation, 70 Years after Brown

  • sean f. reardon, Professor of Poverty and Inequality and Professor (by courtesy) of Sociology, Stanford University
  • Ann Owens, Professor of Sociology, Public Policy, and Spatial Sciences, University of Southern California
Panel 1

Does School Integration Work? Evidence on the Effects of Historical and Contemporary School Integration Efforts

  • Rucker Johnson, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Kalena Cortes, Verlin and Howard Kruse ’52 Founders Professor in the Department of Public Service and Administration, Texas A&M University
  • Elizabeth Setren, Gunnar Myrdal Assistant Professor in Economics, Tufts University
  • Thurston Domina, Robert Wendell Eaves Sr. Distinguished Professor in Educational Leadership, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, UNC Chapel Hill School of Education
  • Moderator: Michael Hines, Assistant Professor of Education, Stanford Graduate School of Education
Panel 2

What Can the Courts Do? Legal Strategies to Promote School Integration and Educational Equity

  • Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, Professor, School of Law, School of Education and Human Development, and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia
  • Robert Kim, Executive Director, Education Law Center
  • Myron Orfield, Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law and Director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, University of Minnesota
  • Moderator: Ralph Richard (Rick) Banks, Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Professor (by courtesy) at the Stanford Graduate School of Education
Panel 3

What Can School Districts and States Do? Policy Strategies for Integrating Schools

  • Tomás E. Monarrez, Senior Research Fellow in the Consumer Finance Institute, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
  • Marissa Thompson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
  • Irene Lo, Assistant Professor in Management Science & Engineering, Stanford University
  • Moderator: Francis A. Pearman, Assistant Professor of Education, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Keynote Discussion

  • Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
  • Prudence Carter, Sarah and Joseph Jr. Dowling Professor of Sociology, Brown University

Additional Resources