Brown Vs. the Board of Education
The case of Brown versus the Board of Education was one of the biggest turning points in African American history, as it was the match that lit the fire under the Civil Rights Movement. The case was the start of a dramatic change, not only for African Americans, but for the rest of the world. This case had a large impact on many other similar cases as well. In the 1950’s public facilities, buildings, events, even water fountains, were segregated. There were “black” school were only colored kids went.
Then there were “white only” schools, often close to the neighborhoods and communities where children of color stayed. Many African American children had to walk far distances to get to school. It reached a point where their parents worried about their children’s safety getting to school. The parents had enough and finally decided to speak up. A man named Oliver Leon Brown brought the topic of segregated schools to court after his daughter, Linda Brown was denied entry into an all white school. After years the case closed finally, in the favor of Mr. Brown, his daughter Linda, and the other African American children. The supreme court made the decision that it’s not fair that the black and white children were segregated in different schools. This case still affects society and the education system today. Brown v. Board of Education was the reason that blacks and whites no longer have separate restrooms and water fountains, this was the case that truly destroyed the saying separate but equal, Brown vs. Board of education truly made everyone equal.
The case started in Topeka, Kansas. Oliver Brown’s daughter, a third-grader named Linda Brown was one of many children having to travel long distance to get to her segregated school. She had to walk over a mile through a railroad switchyard to get to her “blacks only” elementary school. There was a white elementary school only seven blocks away from their home, but when Oliver Brown attempted to enroll his daughter into the school, the principal denied his request, simply due to the fact that Linda was not white. Brown went to the head of Topeka’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and asked for help. The NAACP were eager to help the Browns. In fact they had been wanting to challenge segregation in public schools for a while, and this was their chance. The NAACP was excited to start on a case like this because they wanted to expose what had really been going on in a ‘separate but equal society’. When this case was taken to the state level, it was unfortunately lost. The final ruling stated that separation by color was not violating any law or amendment. In fact the state was not only allowing the separation, but also implying that segregation in schools was necessary because it would prepare young African Americans for what was to come in the real world. During this time all of society was segregated, due to Jim Crow laws, Jim Crow laws were a collection of laws in the US that varied from state to state.
These laws legalized racial segregation. For example, African Americans weren’t allowed to eat in the same restaurants, drink from the same water fountains, or even ride in the same car train as white people. After losing the state case, Brown and the NAACP decided to continue to pursue the case. Mr. Brown and the NAACP went to the United-States Supreme Court. In October, 1951, they appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court , first heard from the lawyers December 9, 1952. Both sides argued their points. Brown’s lawyers argued that there shouldn’t be a segregation in the education system unless there was proof that black children were different from anyone else. The Board Of Education’s lawyers argued that many people including some blacks scholars, did not see a problem in attending an all black school. The arguments went on for three days. The supreme court talked the case over for three months. A year after the first arguments were heard, the case was reexamined. Three years passed until the court made their final decision on the case. Finally on May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court ruled, “separate schools for blacks and whites were unconstitutional. The court ordered all schools desegregated with “all deliberate speed.”” The final ruling of this case was monumental for African American history and the beginning of desegregation in society.
After the final ruling of the case in the favor of Linda Brown a lot of changes were supposed to be made. However, the changes that the Supreme Court court had demanded were not happening overnight, “ For a decade or more, little progress was made.. The first generation of desegregation plans for the late 1950s and early 1960s typically moved just a handful of black students into the white schools or allowed for voluntary transfers to different schools, producing only small read ductions and segregation” Many counties and states refused to go along with it. During the following years after the results of the trial the black population had to fight harder for their civil rights. After this one victory came many more trials. A number of school districts in the Southern and border states desegregated peacefully. In other places their was intense amounts of white resistance to school desegregation which resulted in open defiance and violent confrontations. Requiring the use of federal troops for example, Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Elizabeth Eckford was a part of the little rock nine. She was integrating into white Central High School while surrounding her was, “an angry mob.. scores of adults and young whites were cruising in taunting her.. at times the mob uncontrollably surged forward, threatening Elizabeth’s life”. Efforts to end segregation in schools were connected with the refusal of welcoming African Americans into previously all-white schools. However, after all the intense hardships, the changes were slowly made. Brown v. Board of Education changed the nation, it changed history. The case changed the nature of race relations in America. By 1964, the NAACP’s focused legal campaign had been transformed into a mass movement to eliminate all traces of segregation and racism from the American life. This goal was built by struggle and sacrifice, Overtimes it captured the help and sympathy of the nation. Brown v. Board had inspired the dream of a society based on justice and racial equality. It had debunked the idea of ‘separate but equal’.
Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared it unconstitutional to have separate public schools for black and white students, paving the way for integration. But how relevant is the framing of Brown v. Board to the current social, cultural and educational challenges today? The rulings of this case are reflected in the education system today, “ children of all races are allowed to attend public school together.. Academic achievement of African American children has dramatically increased since the ruling took place.” Even though this was an obvious effect of the case ruling, it is huge. The idea that at one point in history students were forced to go to a certain school based on skin color is crazy. However, Brown vs. Board also affects us socially and culturally today, “by focusing the nation’s attention on subjugation of blacks, it helped fuel a wave of freedom rides, sit-ins, voter registration efforts, and other actions leading ultimately to civil rights legislation in the late 1950s and 1960s.” The Supreme Court decision led to desegregation in schools, leading to desegregation throughout society. This led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Without the Supreme Court Ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education, the lives of all Americans would be completely different.
The case of Brown versus the Board of Education is historically known as one of the biggest turning points for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. This Supreme Court ruling led to more than the desegregation of schools, it led to desegregation in society. Schools could not be segregated by color or race. This provided the people of color access to quality education that had not been available to them before. This allowed many people of color to move into careers never thought possible due to the education required. The contact between children of different races was a significant push in reducing racial discrimination. White children with colored friends, which would have never been thought of before. Without it, society would be completely different today.
- Clark, K. B., Chein, I., & Cook, S. W. (2004). The Effects of Segregation and the Consequences of Desegregation A (September 1952) Social Science Statement in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court Case. American Psychologist, 59(6), 495-501.
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- Orley Ashenfelter, William J. Collins, Albert Yoon; Evaluating the Role of Brown v. Board of Education in School Equalization, Desegregation, and the Income of African Americans, American Law and Economics Review, Volume 8, Issue 2, 1 July 2006, Pages 213–248, https://doi.org/10.1093/aler/ahl001
- Reber, Sarah J. “Court-Ordered Desegregation: Successes and Failures Integrating American Schools since Brown versus Board of Education.” The Journal of Human Resources 40, no. 3 (2005): 559-90. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.bellevuecollege.edu/stable/4129552.
- Anonymous. “Fifty Years Ago: The Little Rock Nine Integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 57 (October 1, 2007): 5. http://search.proquest.com/docview/195549439/.