NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall successfully won the school de-segregation case that was brought by 13 African American families. The case of Linda Brown was alphabetically at the top of the list of plaintiffs so the case is known as Brown vs Board of Education.
What was the Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka? The Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka was a 1954 Supreme Court case regarding school desegregation in which the Supreme Court dismissed the "separate but equal" arguments and ruled that segregation in public schools was prohibited by the Constitution.
What did the Brown vs Board of Education do? The legal case of Brown vs Board of Education overturned provisions of the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson Case that had declared segregation to be constitutional and the Supreme Court banned the practice of school segregation.
Who were the plaintiffs in the Brown vs Board of Education? There were thirteen plaintiffs in the legal case but as the name Brown was top of the list alphabetically it became known as Brown vs Board of Education
Facts about Brown vs Board of Education
History: During the Reconstruction era the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed by Congress and detailed the rights of all U.S. citizens as a response to the infamous Black Codes enacted by many of the Southern states.
History: The 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson Case declared segregation to be constitutional which led to the segregation of the Jim Crow Laws and the "separate but equal" public facilities, including public schools
Definition: The “separate but equal” doctrine, first enunciated in Plessy v. Ferguson, ruled that racial segregation was constitutional and valid under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment as long as the facilities provided for blacks and whites are roughly equal.
Racially segregated facilities became prevalent across the Southern states, separating public facilities for blacks and whites in parks, restaurants, rest rooms, drinking fountains, swimming pools, waiting rooms, trains, buses, housing and schools. Racially segregated facilities were also found in Northern states.
Under the “separate but equal” doctrine African Americans were legally entitled to the same social services, housing and education as whites but in practice only a small percentage of public funds were allocated to black neighborhoods.
African Americans began to protest against the injustices and organizations such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) were established..
The NAACP began to challenge segregation and the “separate but equal” doctrine in the courts. African American attorney Thurgood Marshall was the Chief Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
After WW2 was over Thurgood Marshall focused his efforts on ending segregation in public schools. In 1950, the NAACP asked a group of African-American parents to attempt to enroll their children in all-white schools, knowing that they would be turned away. At this time in history, twenty-one states had segregated school systems and 99% of black students in the South attended all-black schools.
Thirteen African-American families agreed to participate and the strategy of the NAACP was for the NAACP to file a lawsuit on behalf of the 13 families, who represented the states Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
In 1950, a railroad worker called Oliver Brown filed suit against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas and Thurgood Marshall took the case.
The name of Brown appeared alphabetically at the top of the list of plaintiffs. The legal case therefore became known as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and was taken by Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court
Oliver Brown's daughter, eight-year-old Linda Brown, was a third grader at the all-black Monroe Elementary School in Topeka. Linda was forced to travel a significant distance to elementary school due to racial segregation.
To reach her school the eight-year-old Linda Brown had to walk half a mile across railroad tracks to catch a bus to Monroe Elementary School. An all-white elementary school was just four blocks away from her home.
When the case went to the Supreme Court, the lawyers for Topeka Board of Education argued that Monroe Elementary School was architecturally identical to the white schools in Topeka. The lawyers also pointed out that there were more African American teachers than white teachers with a Masters degree. The lawyers insisted that the Topeka schools were "separate but equal".
Thurgood Marshall argued that school segregation was a violation of individual rights under the 14th Amendment and that the only justification for continuing to have separate schools was to keep people who were slaves "as near that stage as possible."
On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court, delivered the unanimous ruling: "We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
Chief Justice Earl Warren agreed that schools be desegregated with "all deliberate speed" that enabled gradual rather than immediate desegregation of schools. It did not require desegregation of public schools by a specific time.
The Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision did not abolish segregation in other public areas, such as transport, restaurants and restrooms but it did declare the mandatory segregation that existed in 21 states as unconstitutional.
The decision reached in the Brown vs Board of Education was the catalyst that began the modern Civil Rights Movement.
The desegregation of schools was a slow process and the Little Rock Nine crisis erupted in 1957 regarding the refusal for the admission of 9 African American students to the racially segregated Little Rock Central High.
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