Written By: Yeskendir Zhrimbet
Edited By: Peter Chu
Photo Credit: Everett Collection Inc
Racial tension has fueled some of the most important legal cases in American history. One of the more significant cases dealing with segregation in the United States was Brown v. Board of Education.
Brown v. Board of Education is a popular and famous case that took place on May 17th, 1954, in Topeka Kansas. Brown v. Board of Education case was about whether racial segregation would be removed from public schools or not. The outcome of this well-known case will astonish you. As it was the cornerstone of civil rights movements and helped bring about the quote “separate-but-equal”.
The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment written in the constitution states that “No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. However, in 1896, the supreme court denied equal justice in the case Plessy v. Ferguson. The supreme court gave official government approval to segregation. This is because the court used the idea “Separate but equal” which approved that race-related separation in public facilities was legal, as long as the facilities for black and white people were equal.
In the early 1950s, the NAACP otherwise known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were working on confronting segregation laws in public schools. Thurgood Marshall, a member of the NAACP, argued that segregation of schools violated the 14th Amendment, which led to similar segregation questions from different places over the country. All leading up to one case. The case which would become most well known, Linda Brown an African American student was denied acceptance to Topeka Kansas all-white elementary school forcing Linda to attend a school far away causing many problems, for example physically and mentally tiring the student, as a result, it's harder for her to focus on studying. Thurgood Marshall argued for African American families that white schools facilities were of much higher quality than the separate schools for blacks, this leading to a valid claim for racial segregation violating the 14th Amendment; This raises the question, can schools be equal if students are separated by the color of their skin? In 1953 the supreme court heard the arguments and decided to put the case on hold to allow for new arguments and briefs. During that time Fred Benson, the Chief of Justice died and was replaced by Governor Earl Warren. For further context, Earl Warren believed that segregation was unconstitutional meaning that it was not in line with the laws of the state.
When the case was resumed in 1954 the court was still divided; most justices believed that segregation was going against the 14th amendment, while others believed that there was a federation issue and the problem of segregation should be left to the states. However, the question remained, can schools really be equal if students are segregated purely based on the color of their skin? The scenario is truly unimaginable in today’s world.
In conclusion, the Brown v. Board of education case was an impactful case that aided in reversing segregation in schools. Although the situation was not entirely settled, it surely did affect schools within modern times. The more severe consequence was that it served as the catalyst for expanding the civil rights movement.