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What is the Supreme
• Highest court in our nation
• Decides cases having to do with the Constitution &
• Can decide whether a law is Constitutional.
o Laws or actions declared Unconstitutional CAN NOT be enforced.
“Jim Crow” or Segregation laws
o Regulated African Americans to
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
• Homer Plessy, who was born a free man
and was one-eighth of African descent
• Louisiana law, Plessy was classified as black
and therefore was required to travel in the
―colored‖ railroad car.
• Plessy purchased a first class ticked and
boarded the ―whites only‖
• Issue: Plessy was asked to relocate to the
―colored‖ car and refused, he was
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
• Decision: the Supreme Court said states could order
racial segregation if the facilities provided for each
race were equal.
• Created the “separate
but equal” policy.
• The Plessy decision created the way for legal
segregation in the United States
Mendez v. Westminster
• In the California , Mendez family lived
where there was only one other
Mexican-American family. Neighbors
were all white, and all children
attended Westminster Main School.
• Issue: Told to attend the Hoover
School, in a different school district,
and all of the students there were
Mexican or Mexican-American
• Only law in California was ―segregation
of Chinese or Japanese children‖.
Mendez v. Westminster
• Decision: Declared segregated schools by race in
California illegal without state law.
Delgado v. Bastrop I.S.D.
• State of Texas had decided that segregation of
Mexican-American students was illegal.
• Issue: State of Texas sued Bastrop ISD, claiming
segregation of Mexican-American children without
a state law.
• Decision: Segregation of Mexican-American
children in Texas was illegal.
Sweatt v. Painter (1950)
• Issue: Herman Sweatt, an African American, who
wanted to attend the Law School at UT-Austin
o A separate law school was created for Blacks
• Decision: Supreme Court ruled that the separate
school WAS NOT ―separate but equal‖.
• Sweatt was allowed to attend with White students
Brown v. Board of Education
• Issue: Linda Brown was denied admission to a
whites only school that was only 6 blocks from her
home. She had to be bused miles away to the all
• Decision: Supreme Court declared ―Separate but
equal, was UNEQUAL‖ Ended segregation in public
schools, whites and blacks can attend together.
• Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson case.
Hernandez v. Texas (1954)
• Pete Hernandez, was drinking with a
friend at a bar in a small town in Texas.
o He got kicked out and shot a man
and was charged with murder.
• Issue: Hernandez was convicted of
murder by an all white jury.
• Decision: Juries needed to be diverse
and that Mexican Americans were
entitled as a class to protection under
the 14th Amendment.
White v. Regester (1973)
• Issue: State of Texas was accused of drawing voting
boundaries to hurt Mexican American and African
American candidates and voters.
• Decision: Texas could not draw congressional
districts that would discriminate against certain
Edgewood I.S.D. v. Kirby
• Issue/Decision: Lawsuit in Texas that resulted in a
more equal school finance system (i.e. Highland
Park students should have similar funding as a small
1963 March on
• 250,000 people gathered in front of the
Lincoln Memorial to bring attention to the
civil rights issue.
• King gave his famous ―I have a dream‖
• Pressure was now on President Kennedy and
Congress to pass a new Civil Rights Act.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
• LBJ become President after
Kennedy is assassinated.
• Congress and the President, the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
• The act allowed the federal
government to sue school boards
that refused to integrate and
mandated the end of segregation
in public facilities.
Civil Rights Act Clip
• How did LBJ continue Kennedy’s legacy when he
became President due to his assassination?
• What did LBJ have to fight against to get the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 passed?
The Right to Vote
• Methods to prevent voting for African-Americans in
o Poll Taxes: small taxes charged on the right to
o White Primary: Only whites were allowed to vote
in the party primaries.
o Grandfather clause-only vote if your Grandfather
o Literacy tests
The Right to Vote!
• Alabama had three-member group review literacy
test —in secret.
• Voted on whether or not you passed.
• Up to the judgment of the Board whether you
passed or failed.
o White and missed every single question they
could still pass you if — in their sole judgment —
you were "qualified."
o Black and got every one correct, they could still
flunk you if they considered you "unqualified."
• 24th Amendment is passed. Eliminated Poll Tax.
• African Americans no longer had to pay to vote.
Voter Registration Drives
• Selma March – 600 people marched in March 1965
and were attacked with clubs and tear gas by
Alabama state troopers.
• Voting Rights Act Video-Start @ 7:17 mark. Stop @
• How did President LBJ show support to the Civil
Voting Rights Act of 1965
• Under immense pressure, Congress passed the
Voting Rights Act of 1965.
• This act abolished the literacy test and had federal
officials oversee elections in cities that were known
for discriminating against blacks.
• Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. His death
sparked violence in 125 cities.