Significance of Brown V. Board of Education Court Case

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The civil rights movement began because of the segregation of whites and blacks in the United States after the civil war. In result of the Civil War, the southern half of the country was in remains and the start of reconstruction was ongoing. Although slaves were already supposed to be considered freed, the racist emotion in the south was still progressing and they found ways to manipulate and torture blacks with work and little food. One of these ways was through segregation and the excuse of separate but equal in society. This problem finally grew on the nationwide view in the Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, where the state of Louisiana had a segregation law set in place to fix the issue. Although there was already segregation laws in Louisiana, the Supreme Court supported it on a national level based on the theory that separate but equal does exist.

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In 1890, a new law was implemented in Louisiana this required railroads to provide equal but separate accommodations for white, and colored, races. The already enraged black community decided to test the law. On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy was taken and jailed for sitting in the White car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Plessy was one-eighths black & seven-eighths white, but according to Louisiana law, he was black by blood and history. Plessy felt as if the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments were being violated and went to court arguing that the Separate Car Act was contradicting them.  The results later coming back and starting the court cases as the judge found that Louisiana was not in the wrong and they could control railroad companies in their state; this made Plessy guilty of refusing to leave the white car.

On a later date, Plessy appealed to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, as he did not believe his punishment for actions was right, but they defended the original decision already made. In 1896 Plessy made another appearance in front of the Supreme Court of the United States for them to here in on the case and was convicted guilty once again. In result to this hearing the Separate, but equal doctrine was released.  The Separate, but equal doctrine was a legal statement in the United States constitutional law stating that racial segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which guaranteed equal protection to all people.

The case of Brown v. The Board of Education first began with five separate class-action lawsuits that was then joined together by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on behalf of the colored schoolchildren and their families in Kansas, South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The lead plaintiff known by the name of Oliver Brown he had filed a suit against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas in 1951, after his daughter Linda was not granted admission to a white elementary school.

Linda Brown, like many of her friends was a women of color, was allowed the privilege to go to school. However, she and her black friends were only allowed permission into a school for Blacks meaning, they were actually segregated from the white students. Therefore, taught to keep their safe space, they were then not allowed the opportunity to associate, socialize, make friends, and learn with the white students. Away from being segregated, there were comments that the schools put forward to black students never were half the standards of the schools attended by Whites when it came to books and facilities. What the law said during those times is as followed: that all schools – whether they cater to the white or the black population – should be equally equipped. That horrible situation provided the setting for Brown v. Board of Education.

Linda, Brown’s daughter, resided only seven blocks away from a good, high standard, and well educated elementary school. Though, she had to commute everyday one mile to reach her school’s location and be able to attend her classes. The reason was simple and nothing to complex, the school positioned seven blocks from her home was a school designated only for Whites. In 1950 however, her parents  made an overall decision and decided to ignore the segregation rules as stated by the school and tried to have Linda registered in the school closer to her home so that she would not have to walk a mile one way each day just to attend her classes. The problem became larger as she was directed away by the school principal who insisted on following and staying strict to the school’s policy of segregation (Cozzens, 1998).

Following the principal of the elementary school seven blocks from their home denied to register Linda, her father, Oliver Brown, wanted the help of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

After the principal of the elementary school blocks from her school refused to allow Linda, her father, Oliver Brown, wanted the help of the NAACP. The Topeka, Kansas branch leaded by McKinley Burnett directly took up the case because it had been excited to begin a legal challenge against the issue of segregation which was directed by white schools at the time. The NAACP brought together thirteen parents and directed them to register their twenty children in schools that were not directly for colored people. In Topeka, eighteen schools were chosen for white children while and only four of those schools were accessible to black children. When all children were denied permission to schools for Whites, the NAACP made all the parents plaintiffs in a class suit it filed in their behalf against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas. (Brown Foundation, 2004).

Brown v. Board of Education was a breakthrough in American history, as it was the start to the long process of cultural segregation, starting with schools. Segregated schools showed so much difference in quality and standards, so African-American families organized the fight for equality. Brown v. Board stated that public schools must mix races and not separate based on color. This court decision created huge disagreement throughout the United States. Without this case, the United States may still have been segregated today. Although the Fourteenth Amendment gave certain rights to blacks, including citizenship, equal protection of laws/freedom, African-Americans were considered lesser of people by whites in this country.

Justice Henry Brown wrote that the intention of the fourteenth amendment was not to abolish racial distinctions.  Nor to establish social equality, but merely to establish political equality.  Laws permitting and even requiring separation of races do not imply inferiority. This writing came up to mind after Plessy presented his case and failed one more time creating that separate, but equal doctrine. The separate but equal doctrine strengthened segregation practices in schools and throughout public life.

In the 1930’s, under the leadership of Charles Hamilton Houston, the NAACP, begin to attack the separate but equal doctrine.  Houston strategically focused his attacks on the realm of public education, because he felt like the detrimental effects of racial segregation were most readily visible in this area of life. Education was already so separated based off color and any money put fourth towards education or new advancements went to the whites. The road to Brown v. Board of Education was officially underway and Topeka chapter was small, but by far known as powerful. For the next two years Burnett, member of Topeka chapter, attended every single school-boarding meeting.  In fact, Burnett had no option but to save all his leave time in order to be able to be present at the board meetings, because they were held during his work hours.

Since, the board refused to acknowledge, Burnett’s continued requests, he decided it was time to look ahead and seek legal remedies. Burnett joined with the Scott family law firm, a local law firm with a well-established, history of filing discrimination cases through the state of Kansas. The awareness of this case grew rapidly and awareness began to grow. By the fall of 1950 they had successfully gathered 20 children who were willing to help test their case. These families were to take their children to the white school closest to their home and attempt to register and have a witness there to document what occurred.

On August 3rd, 1951, the United States Court in Kansas concentrated their decision to uphold the right of the Topeka school board to maintain segregated schools.  They decided that the schools were both separate and equal. The three-judge district board did recognize the validity of the arguments stated regarding the emotional impact of state supported segregation, but with the road leading to this they could not make a ruling that opposed the Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson case that was presented earlier.        

On May 17, 1954, United States Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. State-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment and was therefore unconstitutional. The legacy of brown v. board of education that was fueled by the Civil Rights will forever be known as it was much needed for talks on racism, equality, and so much more.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board marked a outstanding moment in the NAACP’s decades-long campaign to battle school segregation and how it was not right. In proclaiming school segregation as unconstitutional, the Court turned over the long-lasting separate but equal doctrine recognized in Plessy v. Ferguson many years ago leading up to Brown v. The Board of Education. In his view, Chief Justice Warren proclaimed public education was an essential right that deserved equal protection, stating plainly separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

In its memorable ruling, the Supreme Court did not insist of how to exactly end school segregation, but rather they had asked to hear further arguments and problems on the issue as they progressed. The Court’s fearfulness, combined with firm local resistance, meant that the brave Brown v. Board of Education ruling did little on the community level to achieve the goal they were attempting to reach of taking segregation out of schools. Black students, to a large amount, still attended schools with cheap facilities, out-of-date textbooks and often no basic school supplies.

Over 60 years after the breakthrough ruling, measuring its impact remains a complex effort. The Court’s decision definitely fell short of original hopes that it would end school segregation in America for the rest of time, and some believed that bigger social and political services within the country played a far greater role in ending segregation.

As the Supreme Court has grown progressively divided along political spectrums, both conservative and liberal justices have claimed the Brown v. Board to argue different sides in the constitutional debate. Chief Justice John Roberts, stating for the minority, asserted: The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. Justice John Paul Stevens then wrote that the ruling rewrites the history of one of this court’s most important decisions.

Today children of all color and race attended the same school. Whether it is a boarding school, private school, or a public school they all attend class in the same classrooms every day. The case of Brown v. The Board of Education has changed the education for the future generations to come! This case was very impactful to the Brown family as his daughter was in the process of applying to a public elementary and they were still being treated bad and un-humane. His case really opened the eyes of the jury to see that separation of the school was not advancing nor helping students instead just making education an inconvenience.  We are constantly reminded every day that encouraging the conjoining of schools has helped children to learn the different lives some children have to live. This makes little things be more appreciated and helps to care for the others who may not be able to provide for themselves. The jury had no clue onto how this separation was a huge impact on the world and student. Students are now better able to learn from each other and the different features of each culture people come from.

The Brown v. Board of Education was one very important revolving points in the judicial jurisprudence that backed to the overall expansion of the United States. When the choice of the Supreme Court ruled that segregation did violate the Fourteenth Amendment, the future plans concerning rights of the people were afterward shaped. Aside from helping in the maturing of our democracy, it restated the sovereign power of Americans in protecting their rights under the constitution from the arbitrary limits and restrictions imposed by state and local governments. Linda Brown, therefore, sent her message across, clearly stated for the people (Brown Foundation, 2004).

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Significance Of Brown v. Board of Education Court Case. (2019, Aug 16). Retrieved May 27, 2023 , from

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