SOME OF THE HISTORY OF BROWN v BOARD OF EDUCATION
The Declaration of Independence noted that “all men are created equal.” However, this clause was not grounded in law until 1865/68 (ratifying of the 13th and 14th Amendments), which stated that slavery would end, and that all were to experience “equal protection of the law.” These rights were not fulfilled and are still in question to this day.
In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled against Homer Plessy, who refused to give up his seat in the “Whites Only” section of a train, stating that the 14th Amendment was not intended to “abolish distinctions based upon color.” Following this ruling, the Supreme Court continued to uphold further Jim Crow laws and other forms of racial discrimination, on the basis that separate could be considered equal. This included the rarely known case, Gong Lum vs. Rice (1927), which upheld the right to deny the right of a person of Asian descent to attend a White school.
Several cases went before the Supreme Court, ruled based on circumstances that were considered unequal or obviously detrimental to the student of color. One case was Briggs v. Elliot, argued by NAACP attorney, Robert Carter, which included the famous “doll test” showing the effects of inferiority on one’s self-image. Although Carter’s closing arguments were compelling and the evidence clearly proved the detrimental effect of segregation, the case was denied.
The NAACP pursued and appealed five cases (Brown vs. Board of Education, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education, Bolling v. Sharpe and Gebhart v. Ethel). The court consolidated these cases into one, and called it Brown vs. Board of Education. Based on the argument that segregated school systems could make Black children feel inferior, with lifelong implications, the Supreme Court (then under Earl Warren) voted unanimously to rule against segregation.
This landmark case did not end segregation in schools. Some schools in the South responded by setting up private academies for White students, and some schools closed rather than opening their doors to Black students. This struggle to desegregate continued in the South, until Cleveland High School in Mississippi received a court order in 2016. A similar court order, provided to a school in California, desegregated that school in 2021.
Although enforced racial segregation is still illegal, schools are more segregated now than they were in the 1960s (Richmond, 2012). Residential segregation and other factors including defacto segregation continue to affect the achievement and social and cultural understanding of others.
We are not done…
NATIONAL ARCHIVES TIMES BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION INFORMATION
Timeline of Events Leading to the Brown v. Board of Education Decision, 1954
Biographies of all participants in the trials; Plaintiffs, Witnesses, Lawyers and Judges
Where are we today?…..
Desegregation order in Marin County in 2019
Why are American public schools still segregated?