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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

This poignant Michelle Obama photo perfectly captures 60 years of American history

The First Lady herself grew up in segregated schools. So, you know, it’s a fairly decent photo.

Source: Chuck Kennedy/White House via Flickr

AMERICAN FIRST LADY Michelle Obama recently went to Topeka, Kansas to visit the Brown vs Board of Education National Historic Site, to mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling that racially desegregated American schools.

Chatting with a tour guide in the corridor of the original Monroe Elementary School, the photographer on hand seized the moment to capture a poignant illustration of the country’s racial history, and the First Lady’s own personal journey.

The former Michelle Robinson was, as the New York Times notes, herself born into a racially segregated school system in Chicago of the 1960s.

Although the country’s highest court had in 1954 deemed that separate schooling was inherently unequal, and therefore violated the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, it took decades for education authorities throughout the US to honour that judgment.

In 1975, Brown v. Board of Education finally took hold in Chicago, and an 11-year-old Michelle Robinson was able to attend the city’s first racially integrated school for high achievers.

From there, she attended the Ivy League Princeton University and Harvard Law School, became a lawyer, and went on to make history as the United States’ first African-American First Lady.

A back story that makes this snapshot all the more amazing.


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Dan MacGuill

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