Brown vs Borad of Education Essay

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Brown vs Borad of Education




Brown vs. Board Of Education

On May 17, 1954, U.S. 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 14th Amendment states; “All persons born or
naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of
the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any
law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process
of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This historic decision marked the end of the "separate but equal" precedent set by the
Supreme Court nearly 60 years earlier and served as a catalyst for the expanding civil
rights movement during the decade of the 1950s. The brown v. board of Education decision
solved one problem of many with the treatment of blacks in the white society but

The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark court case of 1954 in which the
Supreme Court of the United States unanimously declared that it was unconstitutional to
create separate schools for children on the basis of race. The Brown ruling ranks as one
of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century. At the time of the
decision, seventeen southern states and the District of Columbia required that all public
schools be racially segregated. A few northern and western states, including Kansas, left
the issue of segregation up to individual school districts. While most schools in Kansas
were integrated in 1954, those in Topeka were not.

Racial segregation in Southern public schools dates to the 1860s. Before the American
Civil War began in 1861, a number of northern states also allowed or required segregated
schools. However, throughout the 19th century more than ninety five percent of all blacks
lived in the South, so segregation there affected an overwhelming majority of America's
black population. After the Civil War ended in 1865, and especially after the end of
Reconstruction in 1877, the South continued to segregate its schools and other facilities.
In the influential case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) the Supreme Court upheld the
practice of segregation as long as the separate facilities were "equal." By 1900, the
South was an entirely segregated society.

In 1909 blacks and whites, led by W. E. B. DuBois and Arthur and Joe Spingarn, formed the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization
dedicated to fighting for racial equality and ending segregation. The NAACP challenged
segregation through its Legal Defense and Education Fund. From 1936 to 1950 the
organization won a number of cases leading to the desegregation of law schools and other
professional schools at segregated universities in Mississippi, Maryland, Oklahoma, and
Texas. The NAACP also had some success in forcing states to equalize public school
funding and to pay teachers in black schools at the same rate as those in white schools.
But throughout the South, public education for blacks remained terribly inadequate.

Brown v. Board of Education developed from several court cases involving school
segregation. One of these cases, based in Clarendon County, South Carolina, illustrated
the unfairness of segregation. In the 1949-1950 school year the average annual
expenditure for white students in Clarendon County totaled one hundred seventy nine
dollars, but for blacks it was only forty-three dollars. The county's six thousand five
hundred thirty one black students attended school in sixty-one buildings valued at
$194,575. Many of the black schools lacked indoor plumbing or heating. The 2375 white
students in the county attended school in twelve buildings worth $673,850. These buildings
had far superior facilities. Teachers in the black schools received, on average, salaries
that were one-third less than teachers in the white schools. In addition, the county
provided free school buses for whites but failed to provide them for blacks. These
circumstances led blacks in Clarendon County to sue to create equal schools. In the case,
Briggs v. Elliott (1950), the United States district court in South Carolina ordered equal
funding of black schools but refused to mandate racial integration of the schools.

Meanwhile, in Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, and the District of Columbia, other cases
emerged in the early 1950s that challenged the legality of racially segregated schools.
These cases were consolidated into one case that became known as Brown v. Board of
Education, named after the lead plaintiff in the Kansas case, Oliver Brown. Brown filed
the suit against the Topeka Board of Education on behalf of his daughter, Linda Brown. At
age seven, Linda Brown had to travel one hour and twenty minutes each morning to her
segregated school for black children. If her bus was on time, it dropped her off at
school a half hour before the school opened. Her bus stop was six blocks from her home,
across a hazardous railroad yard, and her school was twenty-one blocks from her home.
Linda Brown's white friends attended a local school only seven blocks from her home. They
did not have to ride a bus or fact dangerous crossings to reach their school. Oliver
Brown argued that he wanted the same conditions for his daughter.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the Brown case in 1952, but the justices did not
decide the case that year. Political divisions on the court ran deep, and the weak
leadership of Chief Justice Frederick Moore Vinson made a decisive ruling unlikely. The
court scheduled reargument in case for 1953, but Vinson died before arguments began. His
replacement, former California governor Earl Warren, was a skilled politician who brought
renewed authority to the court. Moreover, Warren believed that segregation was
fundamentally wrong. He successfully persuaded all of the other eight justices to support
a single opinion to end segregation. Warren himself wrote the statement of the court's
decision, a document known as the opinion of the court. Warren's opinion explained the
context of the law in regards to the case, and detailed the reasons why the court reached
its judgment. It was his first major judicial opinion since joining the court that year.
The question before the court was simple: "Was segregated education unconstitutional?" In
the first half of his opinion, Warren did not answer that question, and he gave no hint of
the decision the court would make. Reading the opinion in a courtroom packed with news
reporters, he simply explained the facts of the cases before him and the history of the
American doctrine of "separate but equal." Warren acknowledged that the history of the law
regarding segregation was inconclusive, particularly as it was addressed in the 14th
Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, requires that every
state give equal protection under the law to all persons, without regard to race. Warren
reviewed the histories of the 14th Amendment, public education, and segregation. Then,
speaking for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Warren concluded, "In approaching this
problem, we cannot turn the clock back to 1868 when the amendment was adopted, or even to
1896 when Plessy v. Ferguson was written. We must consider public education in the light
of its full development and its present place in American life throughout the Nation."

Warren stressed the importance of education to a democratic society, claiming that
education is "perhaps the most important function of state and local governments." He
emphasized, "It is the very foundation of good citizenship." Warren then restated the
original question before the court and provided an answer: "Does segregation of children
in the public schools solely on the basis of race . . . deprive the children of the
minority group of equal educational opportunity?" His answer: "We believe that it does."

Warren supported his analysis with references to research performed by sociologists and
psychologists on the damage to children caused by mandatory segregation. Finally, Warren
concluded by saying that "in the field of education the doctrine of 'separate but equal'
has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. "This ringing
statement was followed by a single paragraph of carefully written conciliatory language.
Warren declared that segregation was unconstitutional, but that the decision would have no
immediate effect on the parties involved. Instead, the court would hear the reargument of
the case the following year to consider how to implement its decision.

In April 1955 the court heard thirteen hours of arguments over four days on how to end
segregation in the public schools. Ultimately, in what is popularly known as Brown II
(1955), the Supreme Court turned the implementation of desegregation over to the federal
district courts in the South. The district courts were ordered to desegregate schools
with "all deliberate speed," an ambiguous phrase that allowed many Southern judges to
avoid desegregation for years. Linda Brown did not attend an integrated school until 1955,
when she had reached junior high school. None of the children of the 20 plaintiffs in the
Clarendon County case ever attended integrated schools. Nevertheless, Brown helped launch
the modern civil rights movement and led to other court decisions that struck down all
forms of legalized racial discrimination. The Topeka Board of Education did not wait for
the Court to rule before amalgamating its black and white elementary schools. Before the
Brown case, Kansas law had provided for the segregation of elementary schools in
communities with populations larger than 15,000. Its junior and senior high schools never
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