Attention to the Rown Vs. Board of Education

The 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling by the Supreme Court stated that racially segregated public amenities as legal, as long as the facilities for whites and blacks were equivalent.  This included racially segregating the public school system.  This practice of segregating the schools was upheld until 1954 when the Supreme Court made a tantamount decision.  The Justices, in a unanimous decision, stated that racial segregation in the public school system was illegal and unconstitutional.  The case that brought this to the Supreme Court’s attention was Brown vs. Board of Education.  This particular case was a major catalyst for the civil rights movement.  It helped to bring about equal education for all and brought to light other services and facilities that were not legal.       

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        The ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson constitutionally certified laws prohibiting African Americans from sharing the same schools, buses, and other public facilities (Jim Crow Laws), and established the separate but equal policy that stood for the next six decades. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was an organization that was founded in 1909.  Their vision was to challenge segregation and make everything equal for all.  In the early 1950’s, the NAACP diligently worked to challenge the segregation laws in public schools. They had filed lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs in the states of Virginia, Delaware, and South Carolina.

        Oliver Brown, the primary plaintiff in the case, was not happy with the schooling situation for his daughter, Linda Brown.  She was denied entry to an all-white elementary school.  Mr. Brown, deeming this as unfair and unconstitutional filed a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1951. In Brown’s lawsuit, he claimed that schools for African American children were not like the white schools, and that segregation dishonored the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, which is that no state can deny any person within the jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This case went before the United States District Court in Kansas, which they agreed that the public-school segregation had a damaging effect on the colored children.

        Brown’s and four other cases related to the school segregation first came across the Supreme Court in 1952; the Court combined all of the cases into one case under the name Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka. The head of the NAACP’s legal defense and Educational Fund, Thurgood Marshall aided as chief attorney for the plaintiffs. Marshall eventually became an Associate Supreme Court Justice in 1967, and presided until 1991.  At first, the Justices were split on how to rule on school segregation.  Chief Justice Fred Vinson’s initial opinion of the case was to uphold the judgment of Plessy vs. Ferguson. The hearing in front of the Supreme Court was scheduled In September 1953.  On September 8th, Chief Justice Fred Vinson passed away without ever hearing the arguments.  President Dwight Eisenhower replaced Vison with Earl Warren, who was the governor of California at the time.

        Warren displayed political skill and determination.  He succeeded in procuring a unanimous verdict against school segregation the year following his appointment.   In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place, as segregated schools are inherently unequal (Warren). The Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being deprived of the equal protection of laws that is guaranteed by the 14th amendment.  The verdict did not explain how the schools were going to be integrated, but asked for more discussion about it. May 1955, the Supreme Court delivered a second opinion on the case, which soon was known as Brown vs. Board of Education II. This is where the southern states asked to be exempt from the first ruling.  In summary, the answer was, No.

        Although the Supreme Court’s decision did not accomplish school desegregation on their own, the verdict gave motivation for the Nascent Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. A year after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Rosa Park refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest led to the Montgomery bus boycott, and it led to many other boycotts. It led to the collapsing of Jim Crow laws across the Southern States. 1964 was the passage of the Civil Rights act enforced by the Justice Department, which led to the process of desegregation. Followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Fair Housing Act of 1968.

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Attention To The Rown vs. Board of Education. (2019, Aug 12). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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