First Lady to address graduating high schoolers in Topeka, Kan., on 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education


McClatchy Washington Bureau

First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver a commencement address this year at an assembly of public high schools in Topeka, Kansas, to mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, the White House announced on Thursday.

The first lady will speak to 1,000 graduating seniors from high schools in the Topeka Public School District on May 17 at 1 p.m. central time.

Brown v. Board of Education was filed against Topeka Public Schools by plaintiff Oliver Brown, whose daughter wasn’t allowed to attend a nearby white school in Topeka because she was black. Brown was joined in the class action suit by 12 other Topeka parents whose children were denied access to the closest public school because of state segregation laws.

The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in 1954 that separate schools for blacks and whites were “inherently unequal” and therefore violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

The first lady also will speak at the graduation ceremonies for Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 10, and the District of Columbia College Access Program, in Washington, DC, on June 19.

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