No child should be locked in a room and interrogated by police because of his skin color.

Yet that’s exactly what happened to a Utah teen who was caught up in a gang sweep at his high school because he “looked Mexican.” And it happens every day to thousands of Black, Latino and American Indian kids in schools across America.

In the six decades since the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision compelled public schools to integrate, how much has really changed? According to the American Civil Liberties Union, not enough. Zero-tolerance policies now criminalize what used to be minor infractions of school rules, and the “school-to-prison pipeline” (STPP) funnels kids out of public schools and into the criminal justice system. Most are children of color, many with learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect.

Sixty years after Brown, school policies still deny racial and ethnic minorities the right to an equal education.

Kids should be educated, not incarcerated. So when the ACLU asked us to elevate its brand as a leading champion of racial justice advocacy by highlighting the efforts of its Racial Justice Project (RJP) to reverse the STPP, we didn’t hesitate.

Seizing on the milestone 60th anniversary of the Brown ruling, we strategically linked school segregation policies of the 1950s with their modern-day counterparts.

Our communications plan included message and content development, a full slate of social media activities, and an event at the National Archives— Brown at 60: Is Full Equality Within Our Grasp?— to mark the anniversary.

McKinney shaped the content for a dedicated Brown at 60 portal on, which jumpstarted the conversation and linked the organization’s leadership with historic struggles in the post-Brown era. Using the hashtag #Brownat60, our team carried the word across social media platforms, including a Reddit AMA and an @EssenceDebate on Twitter. We also parlayed our longstanding relationship with the AFRO-American Newspapers into a media partnership, with extraordinary archival photographs that added visual power to the Brown at 60 Web portal.

Our live-streamed Brown at 60 event featured a conversation with Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, and RJP Director Dennis Parker. Well attended, it sparked a thoughtful exchange and introduced the ACLU to new audiences. We also generated extensive national media coverage, including the Associated Press, PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post and The Diane Rehm Show. In fact, our pitch to Rehm’s managing producer inspired the program to devote the entire two-hour broadcast to Brown.

The Brown at 60 campaign shed new light on the ACLU’s vital mission to ensure that “separate but equal” has no place in our schools.