Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Fifty years ago this week, on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that "separate but equal" could no longer be the rule of the land. Its decision in the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education ended segregated schools and opened the door for a wide range of reforms guaranteeing equal rights not only to African-Americans but also, in the years to come, to women, the handicapped, and (more slowly) homosexuals.
The decision was a heroic milestone in American history, but it was marred, this new documentary says, by four fateful words: "With all deliberate speed."
Those words were a loophole which allowed some Southern communities to delay equal rights for years and even decades; the last county to integrate finally did so only in 1970. And there was the notorious case of Prince Edward County, Va., which closed its schools for five years rather than integrate them. Most people alive today were born after Brown and take its reforms for granted. But "With All Deliberate Speed," the documentary by "Hoop Dreams" producer Peter Gilbert, doesn't end on May 17, 1954. It continues on to the present day, noting that many of America's grade and secondary schools are as segregated now as they were 50 years ago.
The most valuable task of the film is to re-create the historic legal struggles that led to Brown, and to remember heroes who have been almost forgotten by history. Chief among them is Charles Houston, who was the first African-American on the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review. As dean of the Howard University law school, he was the mentor for a generation of black legal scholars and activists who would transform their society. Although he died in 1950, before Brown became law, it was his protege Thurgood Marshall who argued the case before the Supreme Court, and later became the first African-American on the court.