Another anniversary, this time Sixtieth for the Supreme Court decision on May 17, 1954 called Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
Nations, like people, have their shadow side, the darkness they would rather not admit to. With a person that can sometimes be revealed through introspection or therapy. But for a nation, especially the most powerful nation in the world, such truth is extremely hard to face. We have previously talked about some of the dark side of America, as revealed by its closest aspect, Pluto semisquare Ascendant. This came out, for example, in the Gulf of Tonkin incident and of course the whole Vietnam War. But this side of American behavior is not mentioned in the media, in Fourth of July speeches, or political campaigns. There is a mythic belief of America that is celebrated at such occasions, and much of this is shown by the second tightest aspect in the American chart, Mercury semisquare Uranus.
Before talking about this aspect it is interesting to note its relationship to what I am calling the dark side aspect of American culture, Pluto semisquare Ascendant. These two aspects are opposite one another and connected by two oppositions. Symbolically this is interesting: It shows that the shadow side is the obverse of the more public side. This Uranus semisquare Mercury aspect is above the earth and thus more public, whereas the shadow side is below the earth, and thus more hidden, at least to the Americans. The recipients of our dark side behavior are all too aware of it. Also notice that the bulk of the planets are included in the arc between Uranus and Mercury. This is the core of America – except for the public, the Moon, which is below the horizon and thus out of mind.
Uranus is freedom, revolution, rebels. As a country founded in revolution and that being a revolutionary country is important to our self image, it is not a surprise that Uranus is so prominently placed close to the Descendant. When Uranus is combined with Mercury, it indicates innovative thinking, science, technology. From the beginning science and technology were important to the country, as seen in Benjamin Franklin and his many inventions and John Quincy Adams, who is considered the father of American astronomy. Thomas Jefferson was an architect and scientist. Early America drew rebels such as Thomas Paine and Francis Wright and Robert Dale Owen. Early steam driven printing presses and rotary presses allowed the spread of newspapers and books. Westinghouse, Edison, and Bell are famous inventors from America. And this has continued into the present with the development of computers and the Internet. America is famous for more Nobel Science prize winners, great science teaching in graduates schools, and so forth. Of course, some of this may be changing with the rise of neo-liberalism and the increasing privatization of public education.
The decision on Brown v Board of Education is an example of our better nature. It is considered the most important Supreme Court decision of the Twentieth Century, perhaps of all time in the United States. It can be seen as demonstrating the revolutionary goodness of America, another example of why America is exceptional. This decision, by a 9-0 vote – when is the last time we’ve seen that – overturned Plessy v Ferguson of 1896 that allowed separate by equal. The decision ruled that separate educational facilities for different races were unconstitutional. One of the lead attorneys, from the NAACP, was Thurgood Marshall. a brilliant lawyer. He was later appointed to the Supreme Court by Lyndon Johnson as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. When he retired he was replace by Clarence Thomas, appointed by George H.W. Bush. I guess he figured that one black justice was the same was another.
In the chart of the positions of the planets on this day, we see that there is a transiting Mercury semisquare Uranus also, emphasizing this aspect. But look at the transits to the natal chart of the US. There are strong aspects, among the tightest of the day, of the outer planet Neptune to the planets Uranus and Mercury showing that this aspect was highlighted that day.
While Neptune can represent universal compassion, concern for the helpless, idealism, it also suggests illusion. In this case the promise of Brown v Board of Education, which aligned itself with the positive self-image that America has of itself, was prevented from coming to full fruition by deception. The school boards mostly affected by this decision, from Alabama to Massachusetts, fought against its implementation, It wasn’t until another ten years that the federal government passed a law allowing easier legal redress. Parts of that law have been nullified by the current Supreme Court, the one containing Clarence Thomas. No one noticed the irony. And school segregation, which was supposed to be stopped by this decision, is now more prevalent than before the decision. But Neptune prevents us from fully seeing this.