(Ignoring) Laws, Historical Narratives, and Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

I had a new thought/question on the topic of how we discuss Brown v. Board of Education and other aspects of history.

I have understood and observed for about a decade now that there is a gap between the law and reality.

I have also understood for roughly the same amount of time that the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) narrative includes an emphasis on the “with all deliberate speed” diction and an emphasis on how states and local school districts showed outright disregard for this ruling.

Early today through the course of a conversation discussing a suggested/possible new law (forgot the exact topic!), I commented without really thinking that “but of course it would not be followed or enforced.”

And that’s what got me thinking. I might write a book on the topic of laws that are ignored! Why is it such a common theme that laws–on both small items and large items–are outright ignored?

Donald Trump breaks laws all the time. School districts break laws all the time. All sorts of individuals and institutions (“rightfully”) act on the assumption that the law does not apply to them or will not matter.

I am left with two questions for the present time:

First, why is this pattern so persuasive? Why don’t laws actually matter? Why do we actually have laws since most are actually irrelevant in terms of everyday life?

Second, how come this historical process is only really discussed–at least in terms of historical narratives, present-day news is slightly different–when looking at Brown v. Board of Education?

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda