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''Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka'', 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a
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decision of the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America. It has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal and state court cases that invo ...

U.S. Supreme Court
in which the Court ruled that
U.S. state In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares ...
laws establishing
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crime against humanity under the Statute of the Internation ...
in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal", and therefore violate the
Equal Protection Clause The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal pro ...
of the Fourteenth Amendment of the
U.S. Constitution
U.S. Constitution
. However, the decision's 14 pages did not spell out any sort of method for ending racial segregation in schools, and the Court's second decision in ''
Brown II ''Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka'', 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the ...
'' () only ordered states to desegregate "with all deliberate speed". The case originated in 1951 when the public school district in
Topeka, Kansas Topeka ( ; Kansa: ) is the capital city of the U.S. state of Kansas and the seat of Shawnee County. It is along the Kansas River in the central part of Shawnee County, in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the ...

Topeka, Kansas
, refused to enroll the daughter of local black resident Oliver Brown at the school closest to their home, instead requiring her to ride a bus to a segregated black elementary school farther away. Unlike school districts of other states involved in the combined case, in Topeka the lower courts, while still requiring certain remedies, had found that the segregated schools were "substantially equal with respect to buildings, transportation, curricula, and educational qualifications of teachers." Hence with the involvement of the Kansas case the Supreme Court's findings specifically hinged upon the matter of segregation. The Browns and twelve other local black families in similar situations then filed a
class action A class action, also known as a class-action lawsuit, class suit, or representative action, is a type of lawsuit where one of the parties is a group of people who are represented collectively by a member or members of that group. The class action o ...
lawsuit in U.S. federal court against the Topeka Board of Education, alleging that its segregation policy was unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas rendered a verdict against the Browns, relying on the precedent of the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in '' Plessy v. Ferguson'', in which the Court had ruled that racial segregation was not in itself a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause if the facilities in question were otherwise equal, a doctrine that had come to be known as "
separate but equal Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law, according to which racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed "equal protection" under th ...
". The Browns, then represented by
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du B ...
chief counsel
Thurgood Marshall Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court's firs ...
, appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. The Court's decision in ''Brown'' partially overruled ''Plessy v. Ferguson'' by declaring that the "separate but equal" notion was unconstitutional for American public schools and educational facilities. It paved the way for
integration Integration may refer to: Biology *Modular integration, where different parts in a module have a tendency to vary together *Multisensory integration *Path integration * Pre-integration complex, viral genetic material used to insert a viral genome ...
and was a major victory of the
civil rights movement#REDIRECT Civil rights movement#REDIRECT Civil rights movement {{Rcat shell| {{R from other capitalisation {{R from related ...
{{Rcat shell| {{R from other capitalisation {{R from related ...
, and a model for many future
impact litigation Impact litigation or strategic litigation is the practice of bringing lawsuits intended to effect societal change. Impact litigation cases may be class action lawsuits or individual claims with broader significance, and may rely on statutory law arg ...
cases. In the
Southern United States The southern United States, also known as the American South, the southern states, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region of the United States. It is between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwester ...
, especially the "
Deep South The Deep South is a cultural and geographic subregion in the Southern United States. The term was first used to describe the states most dependent on plantations and chattel slavery during the early period of United States history. The region ...
", where racial segregation was deeply entrenched, the reaction to ''Brown'' among most white people was "noisy and stubborn". Many Southern governmental and political leaders embraced a plan known as "
Massive Resistance Massive resistance was a strategy declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. of Virginia along with his brother-in-law as the leader in the Virginia General Assembly, Democratic Delegate James M. Thomson of Alexandria, to unite white politicians and ...
", created by Virginia Senator
Harry F. Byrd Harry Flood Byrd Sr. (June 10, 1887 – October 20, 1966) was an American newspaper publisher, politician, and leader of the Democratic Party in Virginia for four decades as head of a political faction that became known as the Byrd Organization. B ...

Harry F. Byrd
, in order to frustrate attempts to force them to de-segregate their school systems. Four years later, in the case of '' Cooper v. Aaron'', the Court reaffirmed its ruling in ''Brown'', and explicitly stated that state officials and legislators had no power to nullify its ruling.


Background

For much of the sixty years preceding the ''Brown'' case,
race relations Race relations is a sociological concept that emerged in Chicago in connection with the work of sociologist Robert E. Park and the Chicago race riot of 1919. Race relations designates a paradigm or field in sociology and a legal concept in the Uni ...
in the United States had been dominated by
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crime against humanity under the Statute of the Internation ...
. Such state policies had been endorsed by the
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America. It has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal and state court cases that invo ...

United States Supreme Court
ruling in '' Plessy v. Ferguson'' (1896), which held that as long as the separate facilities for separate races were equal, state segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment ("no State shall ... deny to any person ... the equal protection of the laws"). Racial segregation in education varied widely from the 17
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
that required racial segregation to the 16 in which it was prohibited. Beginning in the 1930s, a legal strategy was pursued, led by scholars at
Howard University Howard University (Howard or simply HU) is a private, federally chartered historically black research university in Washington, D.C. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity" and accredited by the Middle State ...

Howard University
and activists at the
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du B ...

NAACP
, that sought to undermine states' public education segregation by first focusing on the
graduate school Student receives degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City, 2013 A graduate school (sometimes shortened to grad school) is a school that awards advanced academic degrees (e.g., master's and doctoral degr ...

graduate school
setting. This led to success in the cases of ''
Mendez v. Westminster
Mendez v. Westminster
'', 64 F.Supp. 544 (C.D. Cal. 1946), ''
Sweatt v. Painter
Sweatt v. Painter
'', 339 U.S. 629 (1950) and ''
McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents
McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents
'', 339 U.S. 637 (1950), suggesting that racial segregation was inherently unequal (at least in some settings), which paved the way for ''Brown''. The
plaintiffs A plaintiff (Π in legal shorthand) is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an ''action'') before a court. By doing so, the plaintiff seeks a legal remedy. If this search is successful, the court will issue judgment in favor of the pla ...

plaintiffs
in ''Brown'' asserted that the system of
racial separation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crime against humanity under the Statute of the Internation ...

racial separation
in all schools, while masquerading as providing separate but equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black Americans. ''Brown'' was influenced by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace an ...

UNESCO
's 1950 Statement, signed by a wide variety of internationally renowned scholars, titled ''
The Race Question The Race Question is the first of four UNESCO statements about issues of race. It was issued on 18 July 1950 following World War II and Nazi racism to clarify what was scientifically known about race, and as a moral condemnation of racism.
The Race Question
''. This declaration denounced previous
attempts at scientifically justifying racism
attempts at scientifically justifying racism
as well as morally condemning racism. Another work that the Supreme Court cited was
Gunnar Myrdal Karl Gunnar Myrdal ( ; ; 6 December 1898 – 17 May 1987) was a Swedish economist and sociologist. In 1974, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Friedrich Hayek for "their pioneering work in the theory of money and econo ...

Gunnar Myrdal
's ''
An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy
An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy
'' (1944). Myrdal had been a signatory of the UNESCO declaration. The United States and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...

Soviet Union
were both at the height of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...

Cold War
during this time, and U.S. officials, including Supreme Court Justices, were highly aware of the harm that segregation and racism were doing to America's international image. When Justice
William O. Douglas William Orville Douglas (October 16, 1898January 19, 1980) was an American jurist and politician who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas was confirmed at ...

William O. Douglas
traveled to
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...

India
in 1950, the first question he was asked was, "Why does America tolerate the lynching of Negroes?" Douglas later wrote that he had learned from his travels that "the attitude of the United States toward its colored minorities is a powerful factor in our relations with India." Chief Justice
Earl Warren Earl Warren (March 19, 1891 – July 9, 1974) was an American politician and jurist who served as 30th governor of California from 1943 to 1953 and Chief Justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969. The "Warren Court" presided over a major s ...

Earl Warren
, nominated to the Supreme Court by
President Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he became a five-star general ...

President Eisenhower
, echoed Douglas's concerns in a 1954 speech to the American Bar Association, proclaiming that "Our American system like all others is on trial both at home and abroad, ... the extent to which we maintain the spirit of our constitution with its Bill of Rights, will in the long run do more to make it both secure and the object of adulation than the number of hydrogen bombs we stockpile."


District court case


Filing and arguments

In 1951, a
class action A class action, also known as a class-action lawsuit, class suit, or representative action, is a type of lawsuit where one of the parties is a group of people who are represented collectively by a member or members of that group. The class action o ...

class action
suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of
Topeka, Kansas Topeka ( ; Kansa: ) is the capital city of the U.S. state of Kansas and the seat of Shawnee County. It is along the Kansas River in the central part of Shawnee County, in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the ...

Topeka, Kansas
in the
United States District Court for the District of Kansas United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community * United, West Virginia, an unincorporated community Arts and entertainment Films * ''United'' (2003 film), a Norwegian film * ''United'' (2011 film), a BBC Two film ...

United States District Court for the District of Kansas
. The plaintiffs were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their 20 children. The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. The Topeka Board of Education operated separate elementary schools due to a 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in 12 communities with populations over 15,000. The plaintiffs had been recruited by the leadership of the Topeka
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du B ...

NAACP
. Notable among the Topeka NAACP leaders were the chairman
McKinley Burnett
McKinley Burnett
; Charles Scott, one of three serving as legal counsel for the chapter; and
Lucinda Todd
Lucinda Todd
. The named African American plaintiff,
Oliver Brown
Oliver Brown
, was a parent, a welder in the shops of the
Santa Fe Railroad The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway , often referred to as the Santa Fe or AT&SF, was one of the larger railroads in the United States. The railroad was chartered in February 1859 to serve the cities of Atchison, Kansas, Topeka, Kansas, an ...

Santa Fe Railroad
, as well as an assistant pastor at his local church. He was convinced to join the lawsuit by a childhood friend, Scott. Brown's daughter
Linda Carol Brown
Linda Carol Brown
, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to
Monroe Elementary
Monroe Elementary
, her segregated black school one mile (1.6 km) away, while
Sumner Elementary
Sumner Elementary
, a white school, was seven blocks from her house. As directed by the NAACP leadership, the parents each attempted to enroll their children in the closest neighborhood school in the fall of 1951. They were each refused enrollment and redirected to the segregated schools. The case "Oliver Brown et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas" was named after Oliver Brown as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster. The lawyers, and the National Chapter of the NAACP, also felt that having Mr. Brown at the head of the roster would be better received by the U.S. Supreme Court Justices. The 13 plaintiffs were: Oliver Brown, Darlene Brown, Lena Carper, Sadie Emmanuel, Marguerite Emerson, Shirley Fleming,
Zelma Henderson
Zelma Henderson
, Shirley Hodison, Maude Lawton, Alma Lewis, Iona Richardson, and Lucinda Todd. The last surviving plaintiff, Zelma Henderson, died in Topeka, on May 20, 2008, at age 88. The District Court ruled in favor of the Board of Education, citing the U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in '' Plessy v. Ferguson'', , which had upheld a state law requiring "separate but equal" segregated facilities for blacks and whites in railway cars. The three-judge District Court panel found that segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on
negro In the English language, negro is a term historically used to denote persons considered to be of Black African heritage. The term can be construed as offensive, inoffensive, or completely neutral, largely depending on the region or country where ...

negro
children, but denied relief on the ground that the negro and white schools in Topeka were substantially equal with respect to buildings, transportation, curricula, and educational qualifications of teachers.


Supreme Court arguments

The case of ''Brown v. Board of Education'' as heard before the Supreme Court combined five cases: ''Brown'' itself, ''
Briggs v. Elliott ''Briggs v. Elliott'', 342 U.S. 350 (1952), on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina, challenged school segregation in Summerton, South Carolina. It was the first of the five cases combined into ''Brown v. B ...

Briggs v. Elliott
'' (filed in
South Carolina South Carolina () is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River. South Carolina is th ...

South Carolina
), ''
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
'' (filed in
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are s ...

Virginia
), ''
Gebhart v. Belton
Gebhart v. Belton
'' (filed in
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes its name from the nearby Delaware ...

Delaware
), and ''
Bolling v. Sharpe
Bolling v. Sharpe
'' (filed in
Washington, D.C. ) | image_skyline = | image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, Air and Space Museum, White House, ...

Washington, D.C.
). All were NAACP-sponsored cases. The ''Davis'' case, the only case of the five originating from a student protest, began when 16-year-old
Barbara Rose Johns
Barbara Rose Johns
organized and led a 450-student walkout of
Moton High School
Moton High School
. The ''Gebhart'' case was the only one where a trial court, affirmed by the
Delaware Supreme Court The Supreme Court of Delaware is the sole appellate court in the United States' state of Delaware. Because Delaware is a popular haven for corporations, the Court has developed a worldwide reputation as a respected source of corporate law decision ...

Delaware Supreme Court
, found that discrimination was unlawful; in all the other cases the plaintiffs had lost as the original courts had found discrimination to be lawful. The Kansas case was unique among the group in that there was no contention of gross inferiority of the segregated schools' physical plant, curriculum, or staff. The district court found substantial equality as to all such factors. The lower court, in its opinion, noted that, in Topeka, "the physical facilities, the curricula, courses of study, qualification and quality of teachers, as well as other educational facilities in the two sets of schools
ere
ere
comparable."''Brown'', 98 F. Supp. at 798. The lower court observed that "colored children in many instances are required to travel much greater distances than they would be required to travel could they attend a white school" but also noted that the school district "transports colored children to and from school free of charge" and that "no such service
as As, AS, A/S or similar may refer to: Art, entertainment, and media * "As" (song), a song by Stevie Wonder * , a Spanish sports newspaper * , academic male voice choir of Helsinki, Finland * Adult Swim, a programming block on Cartoon Network. Bus ...

as
provided to white children." In the Delaware case the district court judge in ''Gebhart'' ordered that the black students be admitted to the white high school due to the substantial harm of segregation and the differences that made the separate schools unequal. Under the leadership of
Walter Reuther Walter Philip Reuther (; September 1, 1907 – May 9, 1970) was an American leader of organized labor and civil rights activist who built the United Automobile Workers (UAW) into one of the most progressive labor unions in American history. He saw ...

Walter Reuther
, the
United Auto Workers The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers (UAW), is an American labor union that represents workers in the United States (including Puerto Rico) a ...

United Auto Workers
donated $75,000 to help pay for the NAACP's efforts at the Supreme Court. The NAACP's chief counsel,
Thurgood Marshall Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court's firs ...

Thurgood Marshall
—who was later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967—argued the case before the Supreme Court for the plaintiffs. Assistant attorney general Paul Wilson—later distinguished emeritus professor of law at the
University of Kansas The University of Kansas (KU) is a public research university with its main campus in Lawrence, Kansas, and several satellite campuses, research and educational centers, medical centers, and classes across the state of Kansas. Two branch campuse ...

University of Kansas
—conducted the state's ambivalent defense in his first appellate argument. In December 1952, the
Justice Department A justice ministry, ministry of justice, or department of justice is a ministry or other government agency in charge of the administration of justice. The ministry or department is often headed by a minister of justice (minister for justice in a ver ...

Justice Department
filed a
friend of the court brief
friend of the court brief
in the case. The brief was unusual in its heavy emphasis on
foreign-policy
foreign-policy
considerations of the
Truman administration The presidency of Harry S. Truman began on April 12, 1945, when Harry S. Truman became President of the United States upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and ended on January 20, 1953. He had been Vice President of the United States for on ...

Truman administration
in a case ostensibly about domestic issues. Of the seven pages covering "the interest of the United States," five focused on the way school segregation hurt the United States in the Cold War competition for the friendship and allegiance of non-white peoples in countries then gaining independence from colonial rule. Attorney General
James P. McGranery
James P. McGranery
noted that The brief also quoted a letter by
Secretary of State#REDIRECT Secretary of state {{R from move ...

Secretary of State
Dean Acheson Dean Gooderham Acheson (pronounced ; April 11, 1893October 12, 1971) was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defini ...

Dean Acheson
lamenting that British barrister and parliamentarian
Anthony Lester Anthony Paul Lester, Baron Lester of Herne Hill, QC (3 July 1936 – 8 August 2020) was a British barrister and member of the House of Lords. He was at different times a member of the Labour Party, Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Democra ...

Anthony Lester
has written that "Although the Court's opinion in ''Brown'' made no reference to these considerations of foreign policy, there is no doubt that they significantly influenced the decision."


Consensus building

In spring 1953, the Court heard the case but was unable to decide the issue and asked to rehear the case in fall 1953, with special attention to whether the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause prohibited the operation of separate public schools for whites and blacks. The Court reargued the case at the behest of Associate Justice
Felix Frankfurter Felix Frankfurter (November 15, 1882February 22, 1965) was an American lawyer, professor, and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Frankfurter served on the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1962 and was a ...

Felix Frankfurter
, who used reargument as a stalling tactic, to allow the Court to gather a consensus around a ''Brown'' opinion that would outlaw segregation. The justices in support of desegregation spent much effort convincing those who initially intended to dissent to join a unanimous opinion. Although the legal effect would be same for a majority rather than unanimous decision, it was felt that dissent could be used by segregation supporters as a legitimizing counter-argument. Conference notes and draft decisions illustrate the division of opinions before the decision was issued. Justices ,
Black Black is a color which results from the absence or complete absorption of visible light. It is an achromatic color, without hue, like white and gray. It is often used symbolically or figuratively to represent darkness. Black and white have ofte ...

Black
, , and were predisposed to overturn ''Plessy''.
Fred M. Vinson Frederick Moore Vinson (January 22, 1890 – September 8, 1953) was an American Democratic politician who served the United States in all three branches of government. The most prominent member of the Vinson political family, he was the 53rd Unit ...

Fred M. Vinson
noted that Congress had not issued desegregation legislation; discussed incomplete
cultural assimilation Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society's majority group or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group whether fully or partially . There are different forms of cultural ...

cultural assimilation
and
states' rights In American political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments rather than the federal government according to the United States Constitution, reflecting especially the enumerated powers of Congress and the Te ...

states' rights
, and was inclined to the view that segregation worked to the benefit of the African-American community; wrote that "we had led the states on to think segregation is OK and we should let them work it out."
Felix Frankfurter Felix Frankfurter (November 15, 1882February 22, 1965) was an American lawyer, professor, and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Frankfurter served on the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1962 and was a ...

Felix Frankfurter
and disapproved of segregation, but were also opposed to
judicial activismJudicial activism is a judicial philosophy holding that the courts can and should go beyond the applicable law to consider broader societal implications of its decisions. It is sometimes used as an antonym of judicial restraint.. It is usually a pejo ...

judicial activism
and expressed concerns about the proposed decision's enforceability. Chief Justice Vinson had been a key stumbling block. After Vinson died in September 1953, President appointed
Earl Warren Earl Warren (March 19, 1891 – July 9, 1974) was an American politician and jurist who served as 30th governor of California from 1943 to 1953 and Chief Justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969. The "Warren Court" presided over a major s ...

Earl Warren
as Chief Justice. Warren had supported the integration of Mexican-American students in California school systems following ''''. However, Eisenhower invited Earl Warren to a
White House The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every US president since John Adams in 1800. Th ...

White House
dinner, where the president told him: "These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes." Nevertheless, the Justice Department sided with the African American plaintiffs. While all but one justice personally rejected segregation, the
judicial restraint Judicial restraint is a theory of judicial interpretation that encourages judges to limit the exercise of their own power. It asserts that judges should hesitate to strike down laws unless they are obviously unconstitutional, though what counts as ...

judicial restraint
faction questioned whether the Constitution gave the Court the power to order its end. The activist faction believed the Fourteenth Amendment did give the necessary authority and were pushing to go ahead. Warren, who held only a
recess appointment In the United States, a recess appointment is an appointment by the president of a federal official when the U.S. Senate is in recess. Under the U.S. Constitution's Appointments Clause, the President is empowered to nominate, and with the advice ...

recess appointment
, held his tongue until the Senate confirmed his appointment. Warren convened a meeting of the justices, and presented to them the simple argument that the only reason to sustain segregation was an honest belief in the inferiority of Negroes. Warren further submitted that the Court must overrule ''Plessy'' to maintain its legitimacy as an institution of liberty, and it must do so unanimously to avoid massive
Southern The name Southern may refer to: * South, a point in direction. * Southern (surname) Businesses * China Southern Airlines, airline based in Guangzhou, China * Southern Airways, defunct US airline * Southern Air, air cargo transportation company bas ...

Southern
resistance. He began to build a unanimous opinion. Although most justices were immediately convinced, Warren spent some time after this famous speech convincing everyone to sign onto the opinion. Justice Jackson dropped his concurrence and Reed finally decided to drop his dissent. The final decision was unanimous. Warren drafted the basic opinion and kept circulating and revising it until he had an opinion endorsed by all the members of the Court. Reed was the last holdout and reportedly cried during the reading of the opinion.


Decision

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision in favor of the Brown family and the other plaintiffs. The decision consists of a single opinion written by
Chief Justice#REDIRECT Chief justice {{R from move ...

Chief Justice
Earl Warren Earl Warren (March 19, 1891 – July 9, 1974) was an American politician and jurist who served as 30th governor of California from 1943 to 1953 and Chief Justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969. The "Warren Court" presided over a major s ...

Earl Warren
, which all the justices joined. The Court's opinion began by noting that it had tried to determine whether the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to abolish segregation in public education—even hearing a second round of oral arguments from the parties' lawyers specifically on the historical sources—but to no avail. In addition, the Court said that the question was even more difficult because of the major social and governmental changes that had taken place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Court noted that in the late 1860s when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, public schools were uncommon in the American South. At that time, Southern white children whose families could afford schooling usually attended private schools, while the education of black children was "almost nonexistent", to the point that in some Southern states any education of black people had actually been forbidden by law. The Court contrasted this with the situation in 1954: "Today, education is perhaps the most important function of our local and state governments." It concluded that, in making its ruling, the Court would have to "consider public education in light of its full development and its present place in American life throughout the Nation." During the segregation era, it was common for black schools to have fewer resources and poorer facilities than white schools despite the equality required by the "separate but equal" doctrine. However, the Court did not address the issue of segregated educational facilities for black children usually being inferior in quality to those for white children, probably because some of the school districts involved in the ''Brown'' lawsuit had made improvements to their black schools to "equalize" them with the quality of the white schools. This prevented the Court from finding a violation of the
Equal Protection Clause The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal pro ...

Equal Protection Clause
in "measurable inequalities" between all white and black schools, and instead required it to look to the effects of segregation itself. Thus, the Court framed the case around the more general question of whether the principle of "separate but equal" was constitutional when applied to public education. In answer, the Court held that it did. It ruled that state-mandated segregation, even if implemented in schools of otherwise equal quality, is inherently unequal because of its psychological impact. The Court supported this conclusion with citations—in a footnote, not the main text of the opinion—to a number of psychological studies that purported to show that segregating black children made them feel inferior and interfered with their learning. These studies included those of
Kenneth and Mamie Clark Dr. Kenneth B. Clark (Chicago Urban League Records, University of Illinois at Chicago Library) Kenneth Bancroft Clark (July 14, 1914 – May 1, 2005) and Mamie Phipps Clark (April 18, 1917 – August 11, 1983) were American psychologists who as a m ...

Kenneth and Mamie Clark
, whose experiments in the 1940s had suggested that black children from segregated environments . The Court then concluded its relatively short opinion by declaring that segregated public education was inherently unequal, violated the
Equal Protection Clause The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal pro ...

Equal Protection Clause
, and therefore was unconstitutional: The Court did not close with an order to implement the remedy of integrating the schools of the various jurisdictions, but instead requested the parties to re-appear before the Court the following Term in order to hold arguments on the issue. This became the case known as , described below.


Reaction and aftermath

Although Americans generally cheered the Court's decision in ''Brown'', most white Southerners decried it. Many Southern white Americans viewed ''Brown'' as "a day of catastrophe—a
Black Monday Black Monday refers to specific Mondays when undesirable or turbulent events have occurred. It has been used to designate massacres, military battles and stock market crashes. Historic events *1209, Dublin – when a group of 500 recently arrived ...

Black Monday
—a day something like
Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor is an American lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Re ...

Pearl Harbor
." In the face of entrenched Southern opposition, progress on integrating American schools moved slowly: In Virginia, Senator
Harry F. Byrd Harry Flood Byrd Sr. (June 10, 1887 – October 20, 1966) was an American newspaper publisher, politician, and leader of the Democratic Party in Virginia for four decades as head of a political faction that became known as the Byrd Organization. B ...

Harry F. Byrd
organized the
Massive Resistance Massive resistance was a strategy declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. of Virginia along with his brother-in-law as the leader in the Virginia General Assembly, Democratic Delegate James M. Thomson of Alexandria, to unite white politicians and ...
movement that included the closing of schools rather than desegregating them. For several decades after the ''Brown'' decision, African-American teachers, principals, and other school staff who worked in segregated Black schools were fired or laid off as Southerners sought to create a system of integrated schools with White leadership. According to historian Michael Fultz, "In many ways the South moved faster, with more 'deliberate speed' in displacing Black educators than it did in desegregating schools."


Deep South

Texas Attorney General organized a campaign to generate legal obstacles to implementation of desegregation.Howell, Mark C., John Ben Shepperd, Attorney General of the State of Texas: His Role in the Continuation of Segregation in Texas, 1953–1957, Master's Thesis, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, Texas, July 2003. In 1957,
Arkansas Arkansas () is a state in the South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegiha Siouan language, and referred to their relatives, the Quapaw people. Th ...

Arkansas
Governor
Orval Faubus Orval Eugene Faubus ( ; January 7, 1910 – December 14, 1994) was an American politician who served as the 36th Governor of Arkansas from 1955 to 1967, as a member of the Democratic Party. In 1957, he refused to comply with a unanimous decision ...

Orval Faubus
called out his state's
National Guard National Guard is the name used by a wide variety of current and historical uniformed organizations in different countries. The original National Guard was formed during the French Revolution around a cadre of defectors from the French Guards. Nati ...

National Guard
to to
Little Rock Central High School Little Rock Central High School (LRCHS) is an accredited comprehensive public high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. The school was the site of forced desegregation in 1957 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public ...

Little Rock Central High School
. President
Dwight Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he became a five-star general ...

Dwight Eisenhower
responded by deploying elements of the
101st Airborne Division The 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles") is a light infantry division of the United States Army specializing in air assault operations. The Screaming Eagles were referred to as "the tip of the spear" by former U.S. Secretary of Defense ...

101st Airborne Division
from
Fort Campbell Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation located astride the Kentucky–Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee (post address is located in Kentucky). Fort Campbell is home to the 101st Airborne Divisi ...

Fort Campbell
, Kentucky, to Arkansas and by federalizing Arkansas's National Guard. Also in 1957, Florida's response was mixed. Its legislature passed an
Interposition Interposition is a claimed right of a U.S. state to oppose actions of the federal government that the state deems unconstitutional. Under the theory of interposition, a state assumes the right to "interpose" itself between the federal government and ...

Interposition
Resolution denouncing the decision and declaring it null and void. But
Florida Governor The governor of Florida is the head of the executive branch of Florida's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws and the power to either approve or veto bills passed ...

Florida Governor
LeRoy Collins Thomas LeRoy Collins (March 10, 1909 – March 12, 1991) was an American attorney and politician who served as the 33rd Governor of Florida. Collins began his governorship after winning a special election in 1954, was elected to a four-year te ...

LeRoy Collins
, though joining in the protest against the court decision, refused to sign it, arguing that the attempt to overturn the ruling must be done by legal methods. In
Mississippi Mississippi () is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississi ...

Mississippi
, fear of violence prevented any plaintiff from bringing a school desegregation suit for the next nine years. When
Medgar Evers Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925June 12, 1963) was an American civil rights activist in Mississippi, the state's field secretary for the NAACP, and a World War II veteran who had served in the United States Army. He worked to overturn segregation ...

Medgar Evers
sued in 1963 to desegregate schools in
Jackson, Mississippi Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County, along with Raymond, Mississippi. The city of Jackson also includes around 3,000 ac ...

Jackson, Mississippi
,
White Citizens Council The Citizens' Councils (commonly referred to as the White Citizens' Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954. After 1956, the nam ...

White Citizens Council
member
Byron De La Beckwith Byron De La Beckwith Jr. (November 9, 1920 – January 21, 2001) was an American white supremacist and Klansman from Greenwood, Mississippi, who assassinated the civil rights leader Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963. Two trials in 1964 on that charge ...

Byron De La Beckwith
murdered him. Two subsequent trials resulted in hung juries. Beckwith was not convicted of the murder until 1994. In 1963,
George Wallace George Corley Wallace Jr. (August 25, 1919 – September 13, 1998) was an American politician who served as the 45th governor of Alabama for four terms. A member of the Democratic Party, he is best remembered for his staunch segregationist and p ...

George Wallace
personally to
Foster Auditorium Foster Auditorium is a multi-purpose facility at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was built in 1939 as a Works Progress Administration project and has been used for Alabama basketball, women's sports (in the 1970s and 1980s), ...

Foster Auditorium
at the
University of Alabama The University of Alabama (informally known as Alabama, UA, or Bama) is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Established in 1820 and opened to students in 1831, the University of Alabama is the oldest and largest of the public ...

University of Alabama
to prevent the enrollment of two black students and uphold his "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" policy that he had stated in his 1963 inaugural address. He moved aside only when confronted by of the Alabama National Guard, who was ordered by President
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Kennedy served a ...

John F. Kennedy
to intervene. Native American communities were also heavily impacted by segregation laws with native children also being prohibited from attending white institutions. Native American children considered light-complexioned were allowed to ride school buses to previously all white schools, while dark-skinned Native children from the same band were still barred from riding the same buses. Tribal leaders, having learned about Dr. King's desegregation campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, contacted him for assistance. King promptly responded to the tribal leaders and through his intervention the problem was quickly resolved.


Upland South

In North Carolina, there was often a strategy of nominally accepting ''Brown'', but tacitly resisting it. On May 18, 1954 the
Greensboro, North Carolina Greensboro (; formerly Greensborough) is a city in and the county seat of Guilford County, North Carolina, United States. It is the third-most populous city in North Carolina, the 68th-most populous city in the United States, and the largest ci ...

Greensboro, North Carolina
school board declared that it would abide by the ''Brown'' ruling. This was the result of the initiative of D. E. Hudgins Jr., a former Rhodes Scholar and prominent attorney, who chaired the school board. This made Greensboro the first, and for years the only, city in the South, to announce its intent to comply. However, others in the city resisted integration, putting up legal obstacles to the actual implementation of school desegregation for years afterward, and in 1969, the federal government found the city was not in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Transition to a fully integrated school system did not begin until 1971, after numerous local lawsuits and both nonviolent and violent demonstrations. Historians have noted the irony that Greensboro, which had heralded itself as such a progressive city, was one of the last holdouts for school desegregation. In
Moberly, Missouri Moberly is a city in Randolph County, Missouri, United States. The population was 13,974 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Columbia, Missouri metropolitan area. History Moberly was founded in 1866, and named after Colonel William E. Moberly, ...

Moberly, Missouri
, the schools were desegregated, as ordered. However, after 1955, the African-American teachers from the local "negro school" were not retained; this was ascribed to poor performance. They appealed their dismissal in ''Naomi Brooks et al., Appellants, v. School District of City of Moberly, Missouri, Etc., et al.''; but it was upheld, and SCOTUS declined to hear a further appeal. Virginia had one of the companion cases in Brown, involving the Prince Edward County schools. Significant opposition to the Brown verdict included U.S. senator
Harry F. Byrd Harry Flood Byrd Sr. (June 10, 1887 – October 20, 1966) was an American newspaper publisher, politician, and leader of the Democratic Party in Virginia for four decades as head of a political faction that became known as the Byrd Organization. B ...

Harry F. Byrd
, who led the Byrd Organization and promised a strategy of
Massive Resistance Massive resistance was a strategy declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. of Virginia along with his brother-in-law as the leader in the Virginia General Assembly, Democratic Delegate James M. Thomson of Alexandria, to unite white politicians and ...
. Governor , a member of the Byrd Organization, appointed the
Gray CommissionThe Commission on Public Education, known as the VPEC or Gray Commission (after its chair, Virginia state senator Garland Gray), was a 32-member commission established by Governor of Virginia Thomas B. Stanley on August 23, 1954 to study the effects ...

Gray Commission
, 32 Democrats led by state senator
Garland Gray Garland Gray (November 28, 1901 – July, 1977, nicknamed "Peck" after Peck's Bad Boy) was a long-time Democratic member of the Virginia Senate representing Southside Virginia counties, including his native Sussex. A lumber and banking executive, ...

Garland Gray
, to study the issue and make recommendations. The commission recommended giving localities "broad discretion" in meeting the new judicial requirements. However, in 1956, a special session of the Virginia legislature adopted a legislative package which allowed the governor to simply close all schools under desegregation orders from federal courts. In early 1958, newly elected Governor
J. Lindsay Almond James Lindsay Almond Jr. (June 15, 1898 – April 15, 1986) was an American lawyer, state and federal judge and Democratic party politician. His political offices included as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 6th congres ...

J. Lindsay Almond
closed public schools in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Warren County rather than comply with desegregation orders, leaving 10,000 children without schools despite efforts of various parent groups. However, he reconsidered when on the Lee-Jackson state holiday, both the Virginia Supreme Court ruled the closures violated the state constitution, and a panel of federal judges ruled they violated the U.S. Constitution. In early February 1959, both the Arlington County (also subject to a NAACP lawsuit, and which had lost its elected school board pursuant to other parts of the Stanley Plan) and Norfolk schools desegregated peacefully. Soon all counties reopened and integrated with the exception of Prince Edward County. That took the extreme step of choosing not to appropriate any funding for its school system, thus forcing all its public schools to close, although Prince Edward County provided tuition grants for all students, regardless of their race, to use for private, nonsectarian education. Since no private schools existed for blacks within the county, black children in the county either had to leave the county to receive any education between 1959 and 1963, or received no education. All private schools in the region remained racially segregated. This lasted until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Prince Edward County's decision to provide tuition grants for private schools that only admitted whites violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, in the case of ''''.


North

Many Northern cities also had
de facto segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crime against humanity under the Statute of the Internation ...

de facto segregation
policies, which resulted in a vast gulf in educational resources between black and white communities. In
Harlem Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is bounded roughly by Frederick Douglass Boulevard, St. Nicholas Avenue, and Morningside Park on the west; the Harlem River and 155th Street on the north; Fifth Avenue on the east; a ...

Harlem
, New York, for example, not a single new school had been built since the turn of the century, nor did a single nursery school exist, even as the caused overcrowding of existing schools. Existing schools tended to be dilapidated and staffed with inexperienced teachers. Northern officials were in denial of the segregation, but ''Brown'' helped stimulate activism among African-American parents like
Mae MalloryMae Mallory (June 9, 1927 – 2007) was an activist of the Civil Rights Movement and a Black Power movement leader active in the 1950s and 1960s. She is best known as an advocate of school desegregationMelissa F. Weiner''Power, Protest, and the Publi ...

Mae Mallory
who, with support of the NAACP, initiated a successful lawsuit against the city and State of New York on ''Browns principles. Mallory and thousands of other parents bolstered the pressure of the lawsuit with a school boycott in 1959. During the boycott, some of the first
freedom schoolsFreedom Schools were temporary, alternative, and free schools for African Americans mostly in the South. They were originally part of a nationwide effort during the Civil Rights Movement to organize African Americans to achieve social, political and ...

freedom schools
of the period were established. The city responded to the campaign by permitting more open transfers to high-quality, historically-white schools. (New York's African-American community, and Northern desegregation activists generally, now found themselves contending with the problem of
white flight White flight or white exodus is the sudden or gradual large-scale migration of white people from areas becoming more racially or ethnoculturally diverse. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, the terms became popular in the United States. They referr ...

white flight
, however.)


Topeka

The Topeka junior high schools had been integrated since 1941. Topeka High School was integrated from its inception in 1871 and its sports teams from 1949 onwards. The Kansas law permitting segregated schools allowed them only "below the high school level". Soon after the district court decision, election outcomes and the political climate in Topeka changed. The Board of Education of Topeka began to end segregation in the Topeka elementary schools in August 1953, integrating two attendance districts. All the Topeka elementary schools were changed to neighborhood attendance centers in January 1956, although existing students were allowed to continue attending their prior assigned schools at their option. Plaintiff Zelma Henderson, in a 2004 interview, recalled that no demonstrations or tumult accompanied desegregation in Topeka's schools: The Topeka Public Schools administration building is named in honor of , NAACP chapter president who organized the case. was designated a U.S. unit of the National Park Service on October 26, 1992. The intellectual roots of '' Plessy v. Ferguson'', the landmark United States Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crime against humanity under the Statute of the Internation ...
in 1896 under the doctrine of "
separate but equal Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law, according to which racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed "equal protection" under th ...

separate but equal
" were, in part, tied to the
scientific racism Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is the pseudoscientific belief that empirical evidence exists to support or justify racism (racial discrimination), racial inferiority, or racial superiority. Historically, scientific racism ...

scientific racism
of the era. However, the popular support for the decision was more likely a result of the racist beliefs held by many whites at the time.''Race, Law, and Culture: Reflections on Brown v. Board of Education'' By Austin Sarat. Page 55 and 59. 1997. In deciding ''Brown v. Board of Education'', the Supreme Court rejected the ideas of scientific racists about the need for segregation, especially in schools. The Court buttressed its holding by citing (i
footnote 11
social science research about the harms to black children caused by segregated schools. Both scholarly and popular ideas of [[hereditarianism played an important role in the attack and backlash that followed the ''Brown'' decision. ''[[Mankind Quarterly'' was founded in 1960, in part in response to the ''Brown'' decision.''Science for Segregation: Race, Law, and the Case Against Brown v. Board of Education''. By John P. Jackson. Page 148


Legal criticism and praise

[[William Rehnquist wrote a memo titled "A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases" when he was a law clerk for Justice in 1952, during early deliberations that led to the ''Brown v. Board of Education'' decision. In his memo, Rehnquist argued: "I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by 'liberal' colleagues but I think '' Plessy v. Ferguson'' was right and should be reaffirmed." Rehnquist continued, "To the argument . . . that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minorities are." Rehnquist also argued for ''Plessy'' with other law clerks. However, during his 1971 confirmation hearings, Rehnquist said, "I believe that the memorandum was prepared by me as a statement of Justice Jackson's tentative views for his own use." Justice Jackson had initially planned to join a dissent in ''Brown''. Later, at his 1986 hearings for the slot of Chief Justice, Rehnquist put further distance between himself and the 1952 memo: "The bald statement that Plessy was right and should be reaffirmed, was not an accurate reflection of my own views at the time." In any event, while serving on the Supreme Court, Rehnquist made no effort to reverse or undermine the ''Brown'' decision, and frequently relied upon it as precedent. Chief Justice Warren's reasoning was broadly criticized by contemporary legal academics with Judge [[Learned Hand decrying that the Supreme Court had "assumed the role of a third legislative chamber" and [[Herbert Wechsler finding ''Brown'' impossible to justify based on neutral principles. Some aspects of the ''Brown'' decision are still debated. Notably, Supreme Court Justice [[Clarence Thomas, himself an African American, wrote in ''[[Missouri v. Jenkins'' (1995) that at the very least, ''Brown I'' has been misunderstood by the courts. Some Constitutional [[originalists, notably [[Raoul Berger in his influential 1977 book "Government by Judiciary," make the case that ''Brown'' cannot be defended by reference to the original understanding of the [[Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution|14th Amendment. They support this reading of the 14th Amendment by noting that the [[Civil Rights Act of 1875 did not ban segregated schools and that the same Congress that passed the 14th Amendment also voted to segregate schools in the District of Columbia. Other originalists, including [[Michael W. McConnell, a federal judge on the [[United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in his article "Originalism and the Desegregation Decisions," argue that the [[Reconstruction era of the United States|Radical Reconstructionists who spearheaded the 14th Amendment were in favor of desegregated southern schools. Evidence supporting this interpretation of the 14th Amendment has come from archived Congressional records showing that proposals for federal legislation which would enforce school integration were debated in Congress a few years following the amendment's ratification. In response to Michael McConnell's research, Raoul Berger argued that the Congressmen and Senators who were advocating in favor of school desegregation in the 1870s were trying to rewrite the 14th Amendment in order to make the 14th Amendment fit their political agenda and that the actual understanding of the 14th Amendment from 1866 to 1868 (which is when the 14th Amendment was actually passed and ratified) does, in fact, permit [[US states to have segregated schools. Berger criticized McConnell for being unable to find any reference to school segregation—let alone any reference to a desire to prohibit it—among supporters of the 14th Amendment in the [[Congressional Globe|congressional history of this amendment (specifically in the recordings of the [[39th United States Congress, since that was the US Congress that actually passed the 14th Amendment) and also criticized McConnell's view that the 1954 view of "civil rights" should be decisive in interpreting the 14th Amendment as opposed to the 1866 view of "civil rights." Berger also argues that McConnell failed to provide any evidence that the [[state legislatures who ratified the 14th Amendment understood it at the time as prohibiting school segregation and that whenever the question of school segregation's compatibility with the US Constitution (as opposed to the separate question of school segregation's compatibility with US state law and/or [[US state constitutions, where courts have often ruled against school segregation) reached the judiciary in the couple of decades after the passage and ratification of the 14th Amendment (whether in [[Ohio, [[Nevada, [[California, [[Indiana, or [[New York (state)|New York), courts have always affirmed the constitutionality of school segregation—as did [[Michigan Supreme Court [[Chief Justice [[Thomas M. Cooley in his 1880 [[treatise ''The General Principles of [[Constitutional Law in the United States of America''. In addition, Berger argues that the views of the draftsmen of the 14th Amendment in 1866 are decisive—as opposed to the views of later readers of the 14th Amendment (including the views of supporters of the 14th Amendment after this amendment's passage and ratification due to the fact that even their views and beliefs about the meaning and scope of this Amendment could and sometimes did change over time—like with [[Nevada U.S. Senator [[William Morris Stewart, who initially opposed school desegregation but later changed his mind and supported it). To back up his view about original intent being decisive, Berger cites—among other things—an 1871 quote by [[James A. Garfield to [[John Bingham where Garfield challenged Bingham's recollection of a statement that Bingham had previously made in 1866—with Garfield telling Bingham that he can make but not unmake history. The case also has attracted some criticism from more liberal authors, including some who say that Chief Justice Warren's reliance on psychological criteria to find a harm against segregated blacks was unnecessary. For example, [[Drew S. Days has written: "we have developed criteria for evaluating the constitutionality of racial classifications that do not depend upon findings of psychic harm or social science evidence. They are based rather on the principle that 'distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality,' ''[[Hirabayashi v. United States'', 320 U.S. 81 (1943). . . ." In his book ''The Tempting of America'' (page 82), [[Robert Bork endorsed the ''Brown'' decision as follows: In June 1987, [[Philip Elman, a civil rights attorney who served as an associate in the Solicitor General's office during Harry Truman's term, claimed he and Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter were mostly responsible for the Supreme Court's decision, and stated that the NAACP's arguments did not present strong evidence.''Harvard Law Review'', Vol. 100, No. 8 (June 1987), pp. 1938–1948 Elman has been criticized for offering a self-aggrandizing history of the case, omitting important facts, and denigrating the work of civil rights attorneys who had laid the groundwork for the decision over many decades. However, Frankfurter was also known for being one of court's most outspoken advocates of the
judicial restraint Judicial restraint is a theory of judicial interpretation that encourages judges to limit the exercise of their own power. It asserts that judges should hesitate to strike down laws unless they are obviously unconstitutional, though what counts as ...

judicial restraint
philosophy of basing court rulings on existing law rather than personal or political considerations. Public officials in the United States today are nearly unanimous in lauding the ruling. In May 2004, the fiftieth anniversary of the ruling, President [[George W. Bush spoke at the opening of the [[Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site|''Brown v. Board of Education'' National Historic Site, calling ''Brown'' "a decision that changed America for the better, and forever." Most Senators and Representatives issued press releases hailing the ruling. In a 2016 article in [[Townhall|Townhall.com, an outlet of the [[Salem Media Group, economist [[Thomas Sowell argued that when Chief Justice Earl Warren declared in the landmark 1954 case of ''Brown v. Board of Education'' that racially separate schools were "inherently unequal," [[Dunbar High School (Washington, D.C.)|Dunbar High School was a living refutation of that assumption. And it was within walking distance of the Supreme Court." In Sowell's estimation, "Dunbar, which had been accepting outstanding black students from anywhere in the city, could now accept only students from the rough ghetto neighborhood in which it was located" as a detrimental consequence of the SCOTUS decision.


''Brown'' II

In 1955, the Supreme Court considered arguments by the schools requesting relief concerning the task of desegregation. In their decision, which became known as "''Brown II''" the court delegated the task of carrying out school desegregation to district courts with orders that desegregation occur "with all deliberate speed," a phrase traceable to [[Francis Thompson's poem, "[[The Hound of Heaven." Supporters of the earlier decision were displeased with this decision. The language "all deliberate speed" was seen by critics as too ambiguous to ensure reasonable haste for compliance with the court's instruction. Many Southern states and school districts interpreted "Brown II" as legal justification for resisting, delaying, and avoiding significant integration for years—and in some cases for a decade or more—using such tactics as closing down school systems, using state money to finance segregated "private" schools, and "token" integration where a few carefully selected black children were admitted to former white-only schools but the vast majority remained in underfunded, unequal black schools. For example, based on "Brown II", the U.S. District Court ruled that [[Prince Edward County, Virginia did not have to desegregate immediately. When faced with a court order to finally begin desegregation in 1959 the county board of supervisors stopped appropriating money for public schools, which remained closed for five years, from 1959 to 1964. White students in the county were given assistance to attend white-only "private academies" that were taught by teachers formerly employed by the public school system, while black students had no education at all unless they moved out of the county. But the public schools reopened after the Supreme Court overturned "Brown II" in ''Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County'', declaring that "...the time for mere 'deliberate speed' has run out", and that the county must provide a public school system for all children regardless of race.


''Brown'' III

In 1978, Topeka attorneys Richard Jones, Joseph Johnson and Charles Scott, Jr. (son of the original ''Brown'' team member), with assistance from the [[American Civil Liberties Union, persuaded Linda Brown Smith—who now had her own children in Topeka schools—to be a plaintiff in reopening ''Brown''. They were concerned that the Topeka Public Schools' policy of "open enrollment" had led to and would lead to further segregation. They also believed that with a choice of open enrollment, white parents would shift their children to "preferred" schools that would create both predominantly African American and predominantly European American schools within the district. The district court reopened the ''Brown'' case after a 25-year hiatus, but denied the plaintiffs' request finding the schools "unitary." In 1989, a three-judge panel of the [[United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit|Tenth Circuit on 2–1 vote found that the vestiges of segregation remained with respect to student and staff assignment. In 1993, the Supreme Court denied the appellant School District's request for ''[[certiorari'' and returned the case to District Court Judge Richard Rodgers for implementation of the Tenth Circuit's mandate. After a 1994 plan was approved and a bond issue passed, additional elementary magnet schools were opened and district attendance plans redrawn, which resulted in the Topeka schools meeting court standards of racial balance by 1998. Unified status was eventually granted to [[Topeka Unified School District No. 501 on July 27, 1999. One of the new [[magnet schools is named after the Scott family attorneys for their role in the ''Brown'' case and civil rights.


Related cases


Other comments

A PBS film called "Simple Justice" retells the story of the Brown vs. Board of Education case, beginning with the work of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund's efforts to combat 'separate but equal' in graduate school education and culminating in the historical 1954 decision. [[Linda Carol Brown|Linda Brown Thompson later recalled the experience of being refused enrollment:
...we lived in an integrated neighborhood and I had all of these playmates of different nationalities. And so when I found out that day that I might be able to go to their school, I was just thrilled, you know. And I remember walking over to Sumner school with my dad that day and going up the steps of the school and the school looked so big to a smaller child. And I remember going inside and my dad spoke with someone and then he went into the inner office with the principal and they left me out ... to sit outside with the secretary. And while he was in the inner office, I could hear voices and hear his voice raised, you know, as the conversation went on. And then he immediately came out of the office, took me by the hand and we walked home from the school. I just couldn't understand what was happening because I was so sure that I was going to go to school with Mona and Guinevere, Wanda, and all of my playmates.
Linda Brown died on March 25, 2018, at the age of 76.


See also

* [[Civil rights movement (1896–1954) * ''[[Dred Scott v. Sandford'' * [[Little Rock Nine * ''[[Loving v. Virginia'' * ''[[Lum v. Rice'' * '' Plessy v. Ferguson'' * '''' * [[Rubey Mosley Hulen, federal judge who made a similar ruling in an earlier case * [[Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South * [[Timeline of the civil rights movement * [[History of African Americans in Kansas


References


Footnotes


Citations


Works cited

* * * *


Further reading

* Keppel, Ben. ''Brown v. Board and the Transformation of American Culture'' ([[LSU Press, 2016). xiv, 225 pp. * * * Patterson, James T., and William W. Freehling. ''Brown v. Board of Education: A civil rights milestone and its troubled legacy'' ([[Oxford University Press, 2001). *


External links

* *
Case Brief for ''Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka'' at Lawnix.com

Case information and transcripts on The Curiae Project

''Brown v. Board of Education'' National Historic Site
(US Park Service)
A copy of Florida's 1957 Interposition Resolution in Response to the ''Brown'' decision, with Gov. Collin's handwritten rejection of it.
Made available for public use by the State Archives of Florida.

*[http://eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/civil_rights_brown_v_boe.html Online documents relating to ''Brown vs. Board of Education'', Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library]
Documents from the district court, including the original complaint and trial transcript, at the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse


curated by Michigan State University's Diversity of Excellence through Artistic Expression
''Brown v. Board of Education''
Civil Rights Digital Library.
"Supreme Court Landmark Case ''Brown v. Board of Education''"
from [[C-SPAN's ''[[Landmark Cases: Historic Supreme Court Decisions'' * {{wikisource|Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (347 U.S. 483)|''Brown v. Board of Education'' [[Category:United States Supreme Court decisions that overrule a prior Supreme Court decision [[Category:1954 in United States case law [[Category:20th-century American trials [[Category:Public education in Kansas [[Category:History of education in the United States [[Category:Legal history of Kansas [[Category:Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower [[Category:United States equal protection case law [[Category:United States school desegregation case law [[Category:United States Supreme Court cases [[Category:1954 in Kansas [[Category:American Civil Liberties Union litigation [[Category:Civil rights movement case law [[Category:African-American history of Kansas [[Category:United States Supreme Court cases of the Warren Court [[Category:1954 in education [[Category:School segregation in the United States