Brown Vs. Board Of Education Essay, Research Paper
Brown vs. Board of Education
Although slavery was finally ended at the end of the nineteenth century black people found themselves still in the process of fighting. What they had to fight for was their own rights. The Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the civil war brought about literal freedom but the beliefs and attitudes of whites, especially in the south kept the black people repressed. In this paper I would like to share the research that I found that helped to launch the fight for freedom in every aspect possible for black people and that is the case of Brown vs. Board of education.
This case to place in 1954 and helped to end the segregation laws that withheld black and white schools being integrated. Before I begin the story of Linda Brown I would first like to bring up the 1896 case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. This case arose from resentment among the black and Creole residents in New Orleans who felt it unnecessary to pay the cost of separate cars. The bigger issue dealt with the battle between the Louisiana statute of 1890 mandating that railroad cars be separate but equal and the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution stating equality for all. Unfortunately most thought that the fourteenth amendment dealt with political equality not social equality. This case brought about the series of Jim Crow laws which basically created two separate but supposedly equal societies. These laws were upheld until the Brown vs. Board of Education case came through.
Linda Brown was a third grader in Topeka, Kansas that had to walk two miles a day to get to and from the black segregated school she attended. A white school was only seven blocks away. Linda’s father Oliver Brown decided to try and get his daughter enrolled into the white school and was refused by the principal. Oliver Brown then decided to contact McKinley Burnett who was the head of the Topeka branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This organization was founded in 1909 by sixty black and white citizens. In 1910 they published Crisis, a magazine that covered achievements for blacks in the arts, business and several other social fields. Most of the NAACP’s efforts where focused on anti-lynching laws and gaining civil rights for blacks without discrimination. When they heard of Oliver Brown’s problem they were eager to help. So in 1951 the NAACP requested an injunction that would outlaw the segregation of Topeka’s schools. Their defense was that not only were the schools inherently equal, what with the conditions of the schools themselves, but also that it was detrimental to black children’s education and future to be living with such segregation. Black children must learn to associate with white children who are a large percentage of the population in order for their curriculum not to be curtailed. The Board of Education’s defense was that black children should learn in segregated schools because they lived in a segregated society and would for the rest of their lives, therefore teaching them at a young age the way society is will prepare them for the future. They also argued that such blacks as Washington Carver and Frederick Douglas went to segregated schools and became great successes.
The request for the injunction left the court with a difficult decision to make. On the one hand they agreed that a sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn but on the other hand no Supreme Court had overruled the ruling of the Plessy vs. Ferguson case. Because of this the court decided to rule in favor of The Board of Education. The NAACP appealed to the Supreme Court that same year but this time they had other cases that challenged segregation in South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware. The case was first heard by the Supreme Court in 1952, but they could not come to any decision. It was reheard the following year and the Court requested that both sides discuss the Fourteenth Amendment. This did little to help the case so the Court had to decide not if the Fourteenth Amendment authors had segregation in mind when they penned the document in 1868 but if segregation deprived black children of equal protection.
Finally on May 17, 1954 Chief Justice Earl Warren who was one of the most dynamic of Chief Justices because of his landmark decisions in the areas of civil rights and individual liberties for black peoples read the ruling.
“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 education opportunities? We believe 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.”
The Supreme Court overruled the verdict of the Plessy vs. Ferguson case and ruled in favor of the NAACP. This required the desegregation of schools across America. This did not, however abolish segregation in other public facilities such as restaurants and bathrooms. It also did not specify when the desegregation of schools should take place. What it did do was declare mandatory segregation that existed in twenty-one states as unconstitutional.
I believe that the Supreme Court did make the right decision and that the NAACP brought up a good case not only in its unfairness politically but socially. Imagine living somewhere where you knew that you could not share with the majority of the society and what kind of mental position that would put you in. I would feel utterly hopeless and education would not be very important to me because I may not be able to put my knowledge towards good use. I think that’s what most children would have felt like and that it would have caused a lot more social and economical problems in their future.