May 17, 1954: The Supreme Court Rules on Brown v. Board of Education
On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which says that no state may deny equal protection of the laws to any person within its jurisdiction.
Although the decision did not succeed in fully desegregating public education in the United States, it put the Constitution on the side of racial equality and galvanized the nascent civil rights movement into a full revolution.
Can you name all the key players behind Brown v. Board of Education? Revisit the landmark case with PBS’ The Supreme Court site.
School integration, Barnard School, Washington, D.C., 1955 (Library of Congress).
Belizean police are investigating a construction company that has destroyed most of one of the largest Mayan pyramids in the Caribbean nation to make gravel to dump on village roads, according to reports from the Caribbean.
Archaeologists and a local TV station witnessed the destruction Friday as bulldozers and excavators continued to demolish the 60-foot-tall main temple at Nohmul — “great mound” — one of the tallest structures in northern Belize, along the Mexican border in the Yucatan Peninsula.
“We can’t salvage what has happened out here,” John Morris, of the Institute of Archaeology, told 7 News Belize. “It is an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled.” A news crew was threatened by a man with a machete as dump trucks hauled away rock and limestone from the temple, which has been “whittled down to a narrow core,” the TV station said.
A Caterpillar excavator was photographed tearing down what was left of the limestone-rich ruins. “It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous,” Jamie Awe, head of the institute, told the Associated Press. “These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It’s just bloody laziness.”
The pre-Colombian site is about 2,500 years old and consists of twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by 10 plazas and connected by a raised causeway. Mayans used stone tools to quarry the rock and build the complex by hand. An estimated 40,000 people are believed to have lived there between 500 and 250 BC.
More of these incidents to come in the years ahead as population growth outweighs the need to protect resources.
There’s been a lot of Prince on my dash for a while….I approve.
The AP Style Guide Finally Deported the Term ‘Illegal Immigrant’
Yesterday, the Associated Press declared that the phrase illegal immigrant was no longer kosher, which is a big deal, since when the AP changes its style guide, newspapers around the country go along with it. Naturally, many people (mostly conservatives) responded to the tiny tweak with howls—and tweets—of derision.
The AP’s reasoning for this fairly mild mandate is that illegal shouldn’t be a descriptor for a person; indeed, “No person is illegal” is a common pro-immigration slogan. “Illegal should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally,” Kathleen Carroll, a senior vice president and executive editor at the AP, wrote to explain the decision. So you can say, “Chen illegally overstayed his visa and lived illegally in the United States,” but Chen himself is not an illegal immigrant. Nor is he an undocumented worker, or an illegal alien, terms which have already fallen out of AP favor.
Though there are meaty—if often abstract and geeky—debates to be had over language, from the legacy of the N word to rigidly enforced political correctness on college campuses. So far, this war of words has been filled with self-righteous, obnoxious carping about terminology, which is far less helpful than discussing whether it’s wrong for poor people to cross an imaginary line in search of better lives. But at the same time, this conscious word-choice change points at the bigger issue of why 11 million people who live and work in the US are treated as an invading army by so many of their fellows.