Plessy Vs Ferguson Case

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“In 1896, the infamous ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson is regarded as one of the worst verdicts made by the Supreme Court. The decision re-established mature segregation laws passed during the end of the Reconstruction Era in the south. One of its doctrine, “separate but equal” originated from Plessy v. Ferguson later playing as the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In 1951, Oliver Brown a local African American in Topeka, Kansas, filed a lawsuit against the local school district for prohibiting his seven-year-old daughter, Linda, from attending an all-white public school. The plaintiff’s outlook on the inferiority the schooling systems enforced on the colored community seemed unjust. He exclaimed the district’s violation of the “Equal Protection Clause” of The Fourteenth Amendment. By 1954, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision declared the inequality administered by the schooling system indeed violated The Fourteenth Amendment igniting uproar for future changes within the colored community.

Born on August 19, 1918, Oliver Brown’s concealed life revolved around his known and established territory as a welder and assistant pastor at St. Mark’s A.M.E Church. His sufferings were ordinary to his race yet unfair to all. Linda, his daughter was seven-years-old at the start of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Linda’s sufferings consisted of her daily routines such as walking to the nearest accessible bus stop to attend her all-black school (despite her closest school being 7 blocks away), mocked on her way to the bus stop by the privileged, and her average education at Monroe Elementary all meshed together to make Linda skeptical on the reliability of the U.S government. The ridicule and cruelty her daughter faced everyday just to go to a mediocre school were enough to motivate her father to file a lawsuit against the school board. During Mr. Brown’s involvement in Brown v. Education, he was voted leader of the plaintiffs due to his early involvement, last name, and being the only man in the collective group of plaintiffs. Albeit Mr. Brown’s life was an obscure one it didn’t stop him from becoming an activist after Brown v. Board of Education. His experiences in a period were he was most recognized and their triumph victory in 1954 played a sole basis for his future involvement in political movements. His early death at the age of 42 paralleled with the death of MLK. Oliver L. Brown died of a heart attack caused by a heat stroke sometime in June 1961.

Furthermore, the “unsung hero” during the initial stages of the prominent lawsuit was McKinley Burrett. In 1951, Mr. Burrett was part of an NAACP local chapter as the president and remained on duty until his death in 1968. It was through Burrett and a handful of local attorneys, Oliver Brown, and 20 other plaintiffs were recruited pushing their legal challenge further. Without Mr. Burret there wouldn’t be a Brown v. Board of Education. In addition, on February 28, 1951, the plaintiffs got the opportunity to be heeded before the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. Raymond Carter the leading attorney (NAACP), argued that segregated schools were detrimental and an infringement of the 14th amendment. Mr. Carter, despite the fact he came well prepared, wasn’t enough to convince the District Court to rule out segregation laws in Kansas. However, their efforts were praised and noticed by the judges, stating “segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children.” Nonetheless, of their endeavors, the judges ruled against the plaintiffs proclaiming that the segregation laws from the precedent, Plessy v. Ferguson and it’s notorious doctrine “separate but equal” was constitutional. “In one sense, my father, the other local attorneys and Mr. Burnett were not disappointed. They knew that the only way for segregation to be overturned throughout the nation and not just in Topeka was for the case to be lost and then appealed to the Supreme Court.” says the son of Mr. Carter. ( David Pitts. Brown v. Board of Education The Supreme Court Decision that Changed a Nation.Issues of Democracy, USIA Electronic Journals, Vol. 4, No. 2, September 1999.) Even though their first ruling wasn’t a success it wasn’t a failure by the stretch of the imagination, managing to seize the attention of the Supreme Court and lived up the predictions the attorneys addressed above. Furthermore, with the year 1951 coming to an end on the month of October, Mr. Brown’s case got tied together with four other controversial cases in the southern states under the name “Brown”. Whilst they prepared to step up to the Supreme Court to request an injunction to stop the segregation of schools nationwide, the involvement of Thurgood Marshall was a revelation and blessing.

Born on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland, Thoroughgood Marshall, was the perfect candidate to address the segregation issues occurring in the states. During his youth, he attended Lincoln High School alongside Langston Hughes and Cab Calloway with Hughes saying Marshall is rough and ready, loud and wrong. At first, Marshall didn’t take his studies seriously and would pull pranks on his classmates getting him expelled twice from Lincoln. As a young man, Thoroughgood initially planned on pursuing a doctoral degree as a dentist but quickly changed his mind pursuing law instead. During his time in law school, Marshall faced frequent inferiority as an African-American and rejected the segregation policies the universities enforced on the colored community, yet in his first year of law school, he also opposed the integration of African-Americans in the universities which is ironic. Following his graduation from Howard University Law in 1933, Marshall was determined to fight for justice in his community. Soon after his graduation Marshall went on to establish a private legal practice in Baltimore but he quickly became affiliated with the NAACP becoming the organization’s legal counsel. Through his acquaintances and position as executive director of NAACP, Marshall took the lead in defending the plaintiffs in their second ruling to demolish segregation laws.”

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Plessy vs Ferguson Case. (2021, Jun 07). Retrieved from

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