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The USA, 1945 - 1975. Brown v Topeka Board of Education.

Brown v Topeka Board of Education - Newspaper Report

Linda Brown was a third grade student in a Black elementary school in Topeka. The school was over a mile from her home and she had to cross railways lines to get there. A Whie Elementary School was much closer to home, just 7 blocks away. Linda Brown's father went to the National Assocation for the Advancement of Coloured People and asked for help when the principal of the white elementary school refused to accept Linda's application. He wanted Linda to do well at school and wasn't happy that she had to travel so far and across dangerous railway tracks, when there was a perfectly good school much closer to home.

The NAACP decided to challenge the decision and asked the courts to take out an injunction that would prevent the Board of Education from imposing this type of segregation. The court heard from manay expert witnesses, most f whom showed how detrimental for black pupils segregation was. However there was a precedent in law that provided for 'equal' but 'segregated' schools for white and black children (Supreme Court had not to this date overturned the ruling of Plessy v Ferguson). As a result the judges ruled that the segregation was legal: though there is evidence to suggest that they didn't neccessarily agree with that!

The NAACP decided to take the Brown v the Topeka Board of Education case to appeal. They wanted the Supreme Court to make a judgement on whether or not segregation was legal.

The Supreme Court deliberated long and hard over the this issue. In 1954 they reached a unanimous decision. Chief Justice Earl Warren told the court:

"We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does...We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."

In doing so the Supreme court had paved the way for mixed race schools. This did not happen overnight though.

 

Sources

Source: EXTERNAL LINK. Click on the thumbnail to go to the US National Archives website, where you can see a copy of the judges decision in the Brown v Topeka case.

Decision: Brown v Topeka

Source: Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1954

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does...We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

 

Links

NPS. Excellent site looking at the cases in detail.

Infoplease. Article about the Brown v Topeka Case and several good links.

Kaw Valley School. Excellent write up of the events surrounding the Brown v Topeka case.

Watson.org. Article about the case.

 

 

 

   

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