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Brown v. board of education

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  • 1. Brown vs. Board of Education<br />Following the Civil War millions of previous enslaved African Americans wished to join the larger society as full and equal United States citizens. Also some white Americans welcomed them, other people used racism, ignorance, and self interest to sustain and spread racial divisions. By 1900, new laws and old customs in North and South had created a segregated society that did away with Americans of color to second-class citizenship. In the crucial case of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896, it was ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court that racially separate if equal did not violate the constitution. Segregation, the court said, it was not discrimination. <br />In 1951 Oliver Brown attempted to enroll his daughter Linda Brown at Sumner Elementary in Topeka Kansas. She was denied permission to attend the school with white children. Linda Brown had to walk to the nearest black elementary school every day that was a mile away through a railroad yard and the nearest white school was seven blocks away. Oliver Brown went to the Topeka, Kansas NAACP for help they were pleased to help Mr. Brown, and they had waited a long time to challenge segregation. Parents of black students in many other states such as South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware were pursuing the challenge to the “separate but equal” doctrine at the same time. In the summer of 1951 Oliver Brown’s case was heard by the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The proposal requests an injunction to prohibit segregation of the public schools in Topeka. The NAACP argued that separating black children from white children was sending a message to them that they had below average intelligence, so there was no way that the education that was provided could be equal. The Board of Education stated that segregation was a part of life. By segregating schools they believed that they were preparing them for their futures. The Board of Education cited examples of successful, educated African Americans like Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and Booker T. Washington, none of whom had attended integrated schools. The case was appealed and it went to the United States Supreme Court in the fall of 1951. It was combined with the cases from Delaware, Virginia and South Carolina. The Supreme Court tossed this one around for a long time. They first heard the case in 1951, but did not issue a decision. They discussed various interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment, and whether the Plessy vs. Ferguson case had violated it. They heard it again in December of 1953. Thurgood Marshall, who went on to become the first African American Supreme Court Justice, argued for Brown and the NAACP.<br />On May 17, 1954 in a case that was argued in court by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall the Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the separate but equal doctrine was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights by separating students solely on the classification of their skin. This had set the legal precedent for the concept of “Separate but Equal” which had been used by the schools in Southern states since that time. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution states that all citizens of the United States by birth are assured the equal protection of the law. The court’s opinion states that “segregated schools are not equal and cannot be made equal, and not being deprived. This ruling in favor of integration was one of the most significant strides America has taken in favor of civil rights and the equal protection of the laws. In handing down their ruling, the judges wrote that "colored children…" suffered a "detrimental effect" from segregation of the schools. However, they believed that the legal precedent set by the Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1892 case prevented them from issuing the requested injunction, and they ruled in favor of the Topeka Board of Education.<br />Finally, on May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued their decision: "…Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal education opportunities? We believe that it does…We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place…"<br />With segregation of public schools declared unconstitutional, segregationists across the South sprang into action to prevent the implementation of public school integration. In some states the legislatures passed state laws to uphold segregation, which then had to be challenged in court by the federal government, one by one, delaying the day when Black children would be admitted to the White schools. Some White segregationists formed councils to fight against desegregation. One of the most dramatic scenes surrounding school desegregation occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, when White mobs screamed threats at nine Black high school students and blocked them as they tried, unsuccessfully, to enter their new school for the first time. President Eisenhower ended up calling in the National Guard to protect them so they could go in <br />School desegregation obviously did not happen overnight, but the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was the legal decision necessary to make it happen, ever. By the time the decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1954, Linda Brown had already moved on to attend middle school.<br />When the United States Supreme Court was opposed to segregating school, it advanced the cause of human rights in America and set an example for all the peoples of the world. The American dream of ethnic diversity and racial equality under the law is a dream of liberty and justice for all. <br />Racial injustices were carried on for many years after the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown Vs Board of Education case. On December 1, 1955 just one year after the ground breaking segregation case Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Alabama bus to a white rider. The refusal to give up her seat sparked a new controversy amongst the African American’s quest for equality among all races. On December 21,1956 the Supreme Court once again ruled in a new case of segregation. They declared it was unconstitutional to separate blacks and whites on busses. Martin Luther King Jr was one the most recognized organizers of the boycotts that lead to this. He went on to help stage many protests to end violence among black and helped lay the path to racial equality. His most memorable speech was the “I have a dream” speech given in D.C. He was assassinated in April of 1968. <br />May 18, 2004 then President Bush and Senator John Kerry hailed the influential 1954 Supreme Court ruling of Brown Vs. Board as a success but warned that it’s full promise had not been reached. “America has yet to reach the high calling of its own ideals” was quoted by Bush. Oliver Brown died of a heart attack in 1961 where he was a minister in Springfield Missouri and Linda Brown went on to college and became a head start teach to low income families. <br />