In marking the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision – Brown v. Board of Education – that effectively launched the end of segregation in America, the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA released a short statement, May 17, 2004. In his statement, the Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick celebrated the developments of the past half century, and called for a greater effort in eliminating racism in the U.S.
The following is the full statement, as released by the PCUSA news service:
Today, May 17, 2004, marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that in so many ways changed the course of history for the second half of the 20th century and the first part of this century. In setting aside the doctrine of “separate but equal” as inherently unequal, the Supreme Court affirmed a vision of one humanity, where all people are to be treated with equal dignity as children of God. That vision is, at its core, a Biblical vision — and one to which God calls us to renew our commitment on this historic day.
That decision 50 years ago sparked the civil rights movement in which churches, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), played a major role in calling our nation and the world to live by the principles of racial and social justice. While we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go to make this vision a living reality in our world and in our church.
My hope and prayer is that this 50th anniversary will not only be a time to celebrate, but also a time to renew our commitment to build a church and a society where all are welcomed and treated with equal dignity befitting those who are created in the image of God.