Milestones: Hugh Speer; Lee Rankin
Hugh W. Speer, a longtime educator who was a primary witness for the plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school-desegregation case, died in Merriam, Kan., on June 21. He was 90.
At the request of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mr. Speer conducted a study that showed the disparities in the separate public schools for blacks and whites in Topeka, Kan. His report found that "the more heterogeneous the group in which children participate, the better they can function in our multicultural and multigroup society." He testified at the 1951 trial in the case.
Mr. Speer served from 1954-64 as the first dean of the education school at the University of Kansas City, now the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He wrote two books about the desegregation case, The Case of the Century and Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Supreme Court and Back.
U.S. Lawyer in Brown Case Dies
J. Lee Rankin, who as an assistant U.S. attorney general represented the federal government in Brown v. Board of Education, died June 26 in Santa Cruz, Calif. He was 88.
In oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in December 1953, Mr. Rankin, the head of the office of legal counsel in the Department of Justice, endorsed the argument of the black plaintiffs in the case that segregated schools were unconstitutional. The court agreed in its historic 1954 ruling.
Mr. Rankin later served as President Eisenhower's solicitor general and as legal counsel to the investigation of President Kennedy's assassination.