Landmarks of the Past and Present: Andover is Ahead of the Times

This Monday marked both the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the case Brown v. Board of Education and the first day in the history of this country that members of the same sex could legally marry. In the early 1950’s, Linda Brown’s father wanted his daughter to attend the school closest to their home in Topeka, Kansas even though the nearby school was for white students only. But the Topeka School Board refused to admit Brown because she was black. The Brown family and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued the Topeka School Board. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, where the justices decided unanimously that segregated schools were inherently unequal and violated the equal protection of the laws promised by the 14th amendment. After the decision in 1954, schools embarked on the slow and often painful process of desegregation. Fifty years later, another milestone was reached for equal rights in America. This week, gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts were given the same rights and privileges of their heterosexual counterparts: the right to marry. In fifty years, Monday might be remembered as Brown is today – a long overdue step in the direction of equality. As students at Phillips Academy, we are fortunate to be members of a community that has historically been ahead of the curve in embracing diversity. Andover was integrated almost 90 years before the Brown decision. Richard Theodore Greener graduated from Andover in 1865 and went on to become the first black student to graduate from Harvard. Indeed, since its founding, Andover has striven to include “youth from every quarter.” Andover has similarly embraced the idea of equal rights for homosexuals much longer than most equivalent institutions. The Phillips Academy Gay Straight Alliance (GSA,) founded in 1989, is among the oldest of its kind in the country. Moreover, Andover has included homosexuality in its anti-discrimination policy for many years. For almost four and a half years, Phillips Academy has asserted the right of gay and lesbian house counselors to live in dormitories. This year marks the first year that homosexual faculty members and their partners are allowed to live together in dorms. As our nation progresses into the 21st century, it is important to commemorate the landmark events that have contributed to diversity in the past, celebrate those that happen in the present, and encourage Andover to remain in