Publication Date

February 2004

Journal or Book Title

The Cornell Law Review 2004 Symposium


In this lecture I revisit the meaning of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and the legal and social struggles that led to the ruling and its consequences especially in the area of higher educational opportunity. I develop the idea of the American Democratic Tradition not as a fossilized ideal but as a contested terrain. The Brown decision and the blues of social change as a protracted, continuous process of struggle is the moment I am trying to render here in this lecture.

The Cornell Law Review invited me to participate in its 2004 Symposium, particularly Panel One on "Law, Democracy, and Ideals: Equal Access to Higher Education" with Professors Marcia G. Synnott and Michael A. Olivas. The symposium was co-sponsored by Allen R. Tessler, Dean of the Cornell Law School, the Africana Studies and Research Center, the Cornell Black Law Students Association, the Cornell Law Students Association, the Federalist Society, the Institute for African Development, and many others. For the complete list of participants and co-sponsors see