The Segregation of Schools in the United States

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The segregation of schools in the United States of America following the Civil Rights Movement was a branch of the Jim Crow laws, which upheld the belief that establishments being segregated did not necessarily mean they were unequal. The Jim Crow laws were derived from the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which reached the Supreme Court in 1896. The Supreme Court decided that segregation was not a violation of the constitution, so long as every establishment was equal. However, the fight against fascism during the post World War II Civil Rights Movement had caused Americans to question the contradictions between the democratic ideals of the United States and the current state of racial inequality. Due to this, many Americans began to protest this contradiction. For instance, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed by black and white activists to protest the unfair treatment of colored people in 1909. The segregation in schools was also combated by these activists in court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and Taylor v. Board of Education of New Rochelle. In these cases, the United States court system acted accordingly in addressing de jure school segregation in the South and de facto segregation in the North by recognizing that both violated the fourteenth amendment. However, racial imbalance in schools still remains a problem today.

In 1951, Oliver Brown filed a case against the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas after his daughter Linda Brown was told she could not transfer to Topeka’s all-white schools. Brown had argued against the “separate but equal” stance by saying the black and white schools were not equal, and that denying his daughter’s transfer was a direct violation of the equal protection clause in the Constitution. The case reached the U.S. District Court in Kansas, and by them it was decreed that segregation was negatively impacting colored children. In 1954, the case had finally reached the Supreme Court. The judges of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the segregation of schools was a violation of the constitution.

Due to the outcome of the Brown v. Board of Education case, new light was shed on the suspicious racial imbalance of schools in New Rochelle. This directly influenced the Taylor v. Board of Education of New Rochelle case, which protested the policy that denied black children from transferring out of Lincoln Elementary school but allowed white children from other schools to transfer. From the facts provided during the trial, Judge Kaufman discovered that before 1949, the New Rochelle Board of Education had repeatedly altered the boundaries of the Lincoln School District in order to send white children to other schools. Then, in 1949 the policy of refusing transfers from Lincoln was adopted. Ultimately, Judge Kaufman ruled that the Board had intentionally segregated the students by gerrymandering, which was a direct violation of the fourteenth amendment.

In both the Brown v. Board of Education and the Taylor v. Board of Education cases, it was argued and ultimately decided that segregation did not include equality. Brown argued that the school intended for black children was not equal to the school intended for white children. In the Taylor v. Board of Education case, the fact that black children were not allowed to transfer from Lincoln yet those from other schools were was inherently unequal. Both of these cases proved that segregation was a direct contradiction of equality.

Furthermore, both of these cases proved that the segregation of schools denied the rights guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment. Brown argued that the segregation opposed the equal protection clause, which states: “nor shall any State deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. Moreover, during the trial of the Taylor v. Board of Education of New Rochelle case, Judge Kaufman ruled that the Board of Education of New Rochelle “did not act in good faith to implement desegregation because motivated by the desire to maintain the school as a racially segregated school, denied the Negro students equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment”. As a result, it was proven that segregation based on race is a contradiction to the Constitution.

In the same way that the cases show similarities, they also differ as well. The Brown v. Board of Education case was protesting against legal segregation that had been mandated by law. Because the Supreme Court found it to violate the constitution, it was abolished. Equally important, the segregation in the Taylor v. Board of Education case was illegal, but caused by gerrymandering and unfair transfer policies voluntarily designed by officials in the Board of Education of New Rochelle. The Brown v. Board of Education dealt with de facto segregation, while The Taylor v. Board of Education dealt with de jure segregation.

Not only were both cases dealing with different types of segregation, they both had received different amounts of attention. The Brown v. Board of Education case had reached the Supreme Court, which in turn meant that it received national attention. This case had started a ripple effect, and influenced other protests against segregation in schools across the country. The Taylor v. Board of Education was one of these cases, and did not receive as much attention. Although the two cases had received different amounts of attention, they both fought for the same purpose.

As shown in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and the Taylor v. Board of Education of New Rochelle, the United States court system was able to cut down immensely on segregation in schools by recognizing the fact that it denied the rights guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution. It has displayed both positive and negative effects in the long term. Today, New Rochelle High School is a highly diverse school with very high graduation averages. This fact shows a large improvement from the racial imbalance combated in the Taylor v. Board of Education case. Unfortunately, there are still nationwide segregation issues in the United States today. According to USA Today, “Black and LAtino students are more likely to attend schools with mostly poor students, while white and Asian students are more likely to attend middle-class schools”. In conclusion, cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Taylor v. Board of Education greatly decreased the segregation of schools in the United States, but there is still the struggle of racial imbalance imbedded in the country’s school system today.

Works Cited

  1. United States District Court. Taylor v. Board of Education of City School District. Federal Supplement; Volume 191, 1961.
  2. New Rochelle Plea On Schools Denied by Supreme Court.
  3. New York Times, 12 Dec. 1961.
  4. Editors, History.com. “Brown v. Board of Education.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/black-history/brown-v-board-of-education-of-topeka.
  5. Editors, History.com. “NAACP.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/civil-rights-movement/naacp.
  6. Editors, History.com. “Plessy v. Ferguson.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/black-history/plessy-v-ferguson.
  7. Lee, Jolie. “Still Apart: Map Shows States with Most-Segregated Schools.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 15 May 2014, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/05/15/school-segregation-civil-rights-project/9115823/.
  8. “New Rochelle High School Profile (2018-19) | New Rochelle, NY.” PublicSchoolReview.com, www.publicschoolreview.com/new-rochelle-high-school-profile.
  9. Robinson, et al. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom World War II and Post War (1940–1949).” Planning D-Day (April 2003) – Library of Congress Information Bulletin, Victor, 10 Oct. 2014, www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/world-war-ii-and-post-war.html.
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The Segregation of Schools in the United States. (2019, Nov 03). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/the-segregation-of-schools-in-the-united-states/

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