Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 supreme court case in which the justice ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education was one of cornerstone of civil rights movements, and helped establish the precedent that ”separate- but-equal” education and other services were not equal at all.
The way that the Brown v. Board of Education case began was a plaintiff named Oliver Brown filed a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas in 1951. After his daughter, Linda Brown was denied entrance to Topeka’s all-white elementary school. And in his lawsuit, Brown claimed that schools for black children were not equal to the white schools and that segregation violated the so called ”equal protection clause” of the 14 Amendment which holds that no state can deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
What the separate but equalmeant was in 1896 the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racially segregated public facilities were legal, so long as facilities for blacks and whites were equal. The ruling constitutionally sanctioned laws barring African Americans from the same buses, schools,and other public facilities as whites. Which were known as Jim Crow laws and established the separate but equal doctrine that stood for six decades.
The case went before the U.S. District Court in Kansas, which agreed that public schools segregation had a detrimental effect upon the colored children an contributed to a sense of inferiority but still upheld the separate but equal”doctrine. Thurgood Marshall the head,of NAACP which stands for ( National Association for the Advancement of colored people) legal defense and educational fund served as chief attorney for the plaintiffs. Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall the first black Supreme Court justice.
The Justices were divided on how to rule on school segregation with Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson holding the Plessy verdict should stand. In September 1952 Vinson died before the Brown v. Board of Education was to be heard and President Dwight D. Eisenhower replaced him with Earl Warren the governor of California. Warren displayed a considerable political skill, determination and he succeeded engineering a unanimous verdict against the school segregation the following year. In the decision issued on May 17, 1954 Warren wrote that in the field of public education the doctrine of the separate but equal” has no place, as segregated schools are inherently unequal. As a result the court ruled that the plaintiff were being deprived of the equal protection of the guaranteed by the 14 Amendment.”
Though the Supreme Court’s decision in this case didn’t achieve schools desegregation on its own the ruling( and the steadfast resistance to it across the South fueled the nascent civil rights movement in the United States. Today, more than 60 years after this case the debate continues over how to combat racial inequalities in the nations school system largely based on residential patterns and differences in the resources between schools in the wealthier and economically disadvantaged across the country.
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