Brown Case: Social Injustices and Inequity Issues

Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark Supreme Court Case in 1954. As we all know it today’s world, the decision of the casewhich was to end segregation in the public-school admission or accession for childrenis the primary factor of the world around us. Brown v. Board of Education, and the series of cases, steering from 4 different regions in the United States, tells a tale of social injustice and inequality inflicted by people in power who believe that those who did not or does not look like them, are inferior to them. Social injustices and inequity stem back to precedents before the Civil War in the nineteenth century and immediately after the Civil War, which we will divulge into in this research paper.

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All across the nation, there were instances of social injustice or inequality in public education for black children. Linda Brown was a student at Monroe Elementary School in 1951. Monroe Elementary was a segregated school for blacks in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas. Topeka was one of the few cities in the state of Kansas that had segregated schools for black and white children to attend. Although Linda’s school was not a bad school, it was an inconvenience since it was far from home. Through the rose-colored lenses of parenthood, this can be seen as a safety hazard for a small child. Subsequently, her father attempted to enroll her into Sumner Elementary, an all-white school that closer to their home. Linda Brown was not granted enrollment into the school.

A civil rights organization, called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909, was a source of “refuge” for black people in the United States who ran into obstacles and tribulations in their bouts for all areas of justice. The local chapter of the NAACP in Topeka frequently aided situations that hampered black families and their expedition of success like Linda Brown and her father.

Following the denial of enrollment, Linda Brown’s father, Oliver Brown petitioned a lawsuit in 1951 against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Along with Brown, thirteen parents’ names were listed in the suit as plaintiffs. The decision that the trial was asking of the court to end racial segregation in the schools. Since the abolition of slavery and the end of the Civil War, particularly in the southern United States, schools were segregated purposefully in an intent to handicap the educational bouts of black people. Other aspects of life were hampered as well with the adoption of black codes or Jim Crow laws.

Nonetheless, in Kansas in 1879, a court ruling permitted the segregation of public schools in the state. The district court did not rule in their favor. They referenced the precedent of the doctrine adopted in Supreme Court Case Plessy vs. Ferguson: “separate but equal.”

Furthermore, the court’s findings stated that there were no differences in the qualifications of black or white schools in the school’s district. Cases that are brought to the Supreme Court are addressed alphabetically. So, although the case nationally is known as Brown vs. Board of Education, there was a series of incidents that were petitioned in several states and territories across the country: along with the fourteen plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, in came a series of other cases which were filed in different regions across the United States. The NAACP and its lawyers advised they all. Virginia (Davis v. County School Board), South Carolina (Briggs v. Elliott), Delaware (Belton v. Gebhart), Kansas (Brown vs. Board of Education), and one in the District of Columbia (Boiling v. Sharpe.) 

There was a lieu of differences in comparison to the cases that were documented and utilized as instances in the landmark case. In Kansas for example, the differences in quality of educationwhether it be the composition of the buildings or the knowledge that is being retainedwere harder to decipher and present in the argument of changing segregation to integration.

On the other hand, there were cases such as Davis v. County School Board, where the differences in white schools and black schools were apparent. In Farmville, Virginia, there was no place for students to eat, no nurse’s office, restrooms for teachers, or gymnasium at Moton High School. In today’s world or recent years, overflowing students are/were housed in trailers. Students at Moton High School were housed in a single, old school bus and buildings covered in tar paper.

No matter the details behind the implementation of a petition for all of these cases at their respective counties’ courthouses, the commonalities are prevalent. The ideals of inferiority lingered amongst young black people seeking an education. Whether it be indebted to the fact that they didn’t have adequate infrastructure in their schools, denied enrollment to a public school with many open seats, or not given access to public transportation to and from school, these issues were raised based upon what is blatant in their eyes: segregation and degradation.

Justice Felix Frankfurter did not want to make a hasty, vast decision. He wanted the decision to be deliberate and thought out thoroughly. Frankfurter also wanted the decision to be unanimous or nearly unanimous. Making a stance in front of the American people, changing the precedent of an old doctrine to a new doctrine–which could most certainly alter the lives of all American–was pertinent. Therefore, the Supreme Court had to make a sound decision. He wanted to answer specific questions before concluding as to whether or not the doctrine, “separate but equal,” was constitutional or unconstitutional. Frankfurter subsequently asked, “What was the end goal or the motive behind the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson?”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and lawyer Thurgood Marshall stated that the terminology of the words “separate but equal,” was a contradiction. Henceforth, the actions taken in instances of injustice which was brought forth to the court is permissible and therefore, the chief justice and his fellow associate justices should consider that while reviewing the cases.

 A sense of inferiority affects a child’s motivation learn. – Chief Justice Earl Warren

When a President appoints justices, they become a justice until they willfully retire, or until their death. With the passing of Chief Justice Frederick M. Vinson, who was appointed by Harry S. Truman, in came Earl Warren. Earl Warren, then governor of California was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower as the new Chief Justice on October 5. 1953.

Warren was liberally thinking and persuasive in his arguments that he’d made in the courtrooms or during deliberations. Subsequently, Warren’s very first case to review was Brown v. Board of Education. The case was assessed in the spring of 1953, however, incontinence with the outlook of Justice Frankfurter, the matter had been tabled due to the questions regarding the precedent doctrine “separate but equal” and the aftermath of either decision that may be drawn in the case. If they were to rule in favor of Brown, would segregation end gradually? Or will it end immediately? In the past, “separate but equal” was considered constitutional, being that Brown vs. Board of Education was not the first case brought to the attention of the Supreme Court regarding the doctrine. Brown vs. Board of Education was precedent by Plessy v. Ferguson. The “separate but equal” doctrine was adopted in 1896 in the ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson.

However, the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson entailed all public facilities, whereas Brown v. Board Education only implied public schools would become integrated.  After reviewing the case, Warren stated the incompetence and irrelevance of the historical context of Plessy v. Ferguson. He did not seek to understand the mindset of the men from the 19th century and their rulings. He followed the importance of education and the environment surrounding the one’s receiving education. He understood that inferiority or even the thought of such could ultimately damage the will of the learner.

 We cannot turn the clock back to when the amendment was adopted, or to the doctrine of 1896 in Plessy vs. Ferguson. –Chief Justice Earl Warren

Although the layout presented to the subjects in this case by Chief Justice Earl Warren implied that segregation end immediately, the South took a somewhat gradual approach or none at all. In Little Rock, Arkansas the governor sent in troops from the National Guard to prevent nine black students from attending school at Little Rock Central High School. The governor at the time of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, before the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education denied nine black students’ enrollment into the high school. Ultimately President Eisenhower had to send in federal troops to force the integration and protect the nine black attending Little Rock Central in a hasty environment.

Based on readings for a previous course, Frederick Douglass explicated immensely the fear of educating a black person during slavery. The “hypothetical” view was that if slaves were to learn how to read and write, the ideals of abolitionism would enrage them, ultimately influencing them to spread these beliefs with their kinfolk, landscaping the region and pouring over by hearsay into nearby plantations. Revolts were to happen, turmoil would commence, and these educated slaves would then turn on their overseers and masters, abruptly ending the workhorse that was chattel slavery in the United States.

The thirteenth amendment eradicated slavery and abolished it in the United States and its territories in 1865. With no direction or insight on how to go about living as freedmen and the rights of freedmen, more documentation was necessary for born slaves, now freedmen and women, to function properly as a nation of wholly counted citizens (reference: The Great Compromise.) Subsequently, the fourteenth amendment re-established the rights of citizenship in the United States, the peoples who it addressed and what it entailed. However, there were discrepancies in what newly freed black American slaves can do to be able to uplift themselves in distinctive aspects of their lives (i.e., education, economics, pursuit of the “American dream.”) Although all people were presumptuously “equal” with the emancipation of black slaves and the abolition of slavery in the United States, there were still undertones of inequality. The freedmen experienced everything but amiable interactions while trying to maneuver their way through their newfound ‘society.’ Most notably in the South, black codes were formed in an attempt to legally keep blacks in bondage through handicapping them to society and its resources, which were aided by the federal government.

For purposes of obtaining background information for both landmark Supreme Court cases, it is essential to understand the significance of education to a group of people who weren’t even awarded the opportunity to obtain the fundamentals of educating oneself. Profound leaders such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, and Booker T. Washington, set examples by becoming idealistic people for the black people and families to look to as a means of understanding the importance of educating oneself to attain a substantial lifestyle and ultimately a better life for their people.

The twentieth century was a premier time for social justice amongst minorities. Black people dominated the mid-twentieth century with literature due to the works of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. The context behind Harlem a poem written by Langston Hughes can be utilized as an analogy in any aspect of one’s life which comes across the poem. However, for black people at this time, they were mobile. Whether it be mobile as referring to the Great Migration of the South or mobile in their drive to become educated enough to attain whatever life they sought out for themselves; black people were anything but stagnant.

In Brown v. Board of Education and all of the cases related to iteven the ones that came before ithow would you describe the people? People who were turned down when asking for the desegregation of public schools? Because the walls in the school weren’t suitable for human life, and students could barely breathe? Teachers, who had the same qualifications as another teacher who had fairer skin, was denied employment at an all-white school because of the color of their skin? How about busses opting not to pick up children because of the color of their skin?

Plays like, “A Raisin in the Sun,” published and converted into a film in the mid-twentieth century set the tone, in my opinion about the Brown v. the Board of Education. It also highlights the systemic aspect of the doctrine “separate but equal” and how it is interpreted in different areas of the government. It can be thru public-school funding, or it can be by the blueprint presented to local governments and city councils when developing a new, affluent neighborhood.

In conclusion to the details behind Brown vs. Board of Education and pieces of history surrounding it (i.e., Harlem Renaissance, The Great Migration,) I’d like to utilize a couple of lines from the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes.

 Maybe it just sags

Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

With the denial of enrollment of black students into all-white schools, followed by the referencing of the separate but equal doctrine–in numerous cases across the country– there was a lack of encouragement to better one’s future, like Chief Justice Earl Warren stated. When does enough become enough? How can one implement a plan that feasibly works into a better tomorrow? What does a better tomorrow look like? Who is willing to carry the weight that all have once held in the palm of their hands or the traps of their back? Fourteen families from Topeka, Kansas, Four-hundred fifty students from Moton High School is Farmville, Virginia, along with people from South Carolina, Delaware, and Washington D.Cthese were the people who helped a dream deferred explode, creating a better tomorrow.

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Brown Case: Social Injustices and Inequity Issues. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from
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