The Turning Point of Public Education for African Americans
It was a cool September morning in 1950s Topeka, Kansas. Linda Brown, a young girl, was walking to an all-white summer school for her very first day. However, she was denied entry from the school because of her race. 20th century African Americans were not in a good place at the time. The KKK (Klu Klux Klan) was on the rise and they were spreading white supremacist ideals and rhetoric. This led her father to sue the school board. The Brown v Board of education case (the most significant case leading to the integration of public schools) challenged the school system and its values, and it did so through Justice L. Warren, who overturned one of the most important cases (Plessy v ferguson), the help of Thurgood Marshall, and the conglomeration of Brown’s case with four others challenging the school system’s blatant racism and marginalization of people of color.
The strongest argument against the idea that Brown v Board was the most significant case that helped lead to integration of public schools is that Brown’s case, at least linda’s case itself, was lost (in addition to two other cases), therefore making it the less relevant and significant trial. When the verdict was discussed, it was stated that segregation was, quote “In the nature of things”” and an appropriate means of “ensuring public comfort, tradition, and order.” and that integration would disturb this.
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The NAACP, (also known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) had a huge impact on the case through Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall had always been interested in the constitution. His interest in the law began when he was a high school student, and first read the constitution after breaking the rules of his high school. He went on to attend lincoln University, an all Black school. Marshall was the reason that the supreme court ruled the segregation of public schools unconstitutional. In the early 1930s, immediately after his graduation, he represented a local NAACP chapter, which was challenging Maryland University’s segregation policy. He funded the NAACP’s legal defense fund in 1940. After doing so he became one of the most important and impactful members of the chapter, and a key element in the fight against segregation. In one of the most nail-biting cases in Brown v. Board, Plessy v. ferguson, Marshall fought to take down the “separate but equal” doctrine, and overturned the once negative verdict of the case.
However, Brown v. Board’s conglomeration with 5 other cases also helped give the case more coverage and publication in the media, in addition to helping others (and the public) understand the severity of the issues presented. The Plessy v. Ferguson case (mentioned above) brought a lot of attention to Brown’s case that could have been quintessential to the success of it.