The brown vs. board of education case was a landmark case involving Oliver brown and the board of education (Wilkins, 14). Brown had sought desegregation of public schools in order to allow his daughter to attend the nearest school which happened to be a white elementary school. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Oliver brown on may 17 1954 and called for desegregation of all public elementary schools (cozzens). In addition, this ruling overturned the plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896 which had allowed for establishment of segregated but equal schools. Although the court ruled in favour of brown the real desegregation was far from reality. However this case was a huge step towards establishing equality in schools
Back ground information
Prior to the brown vs. board of education case, the USA experienced racial segregation in almost all social facilities. There were big differences pertaining to the quality of services and equipment provided in these facilities. Facilities for the whites had far much better services than those for the black people. Schools were not left out, with majority of black schools having inadequate necessities. The plessy vs. Ferguson case had held that the fourth amendment (Which stated that every citizen should be protected equally by the law) was not violated by the establishment of the segregated facilities. However various complaints had mounted in different states regarding the poor quality of services provided in these facilities.
Brown vs. board of education
Linda brown, a third grader had to walk for one mile to her black elementary school despite the fact that a white one was just seven blocks away (cozzens). Her father, Oliver brown sought to reduce Linda’s misery by enrolling her in the nearby white elementary school (cozzens). However, due to segregation the principal denied his daughter a chance in the school prompting Mr Brown to seek help from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). There were various similar cases that had previously occurred and therefore brown’s situation had arrived at the right time.
In 1951, NACCP filed a class action suit in the US district court for the district of Kansas against the board of education of the city of Topeka Kansas (cozzens). The plaintiffs by then were thirteen parents, twelve of whom had joined brown on behalf of their nineteen children. The suit called for desegregation of public schools to allow for enrolment of black children in white schools (Wilkins, 14). Through NACCP direction, each of the twelve parents had attempted to enrol their children in the white school but was directed to black schools after being denied admission.
In its defence the board of education claimed that the segregated schools simply prepared the black child for life after school which was more segregated (cozzens). The board further claimed that the black schools had produced some American greats such as Booker T Washington. The court agreed with the expert witness and in its decision it noted that “Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children...A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn” (cozzens). However, the court was not mandated to rule in favour of the witnesses because the plessy vs. Ferguson precedent was still binding. Therefore the court ruled in favour of the board of education.
As find law notes, despite this the NACCP soldiered on and combined cases with those from Delaware and Carolina among others and on October 1, 1952 they appealed to the Supreme Court and their case was first heard in 1952 but no decision was reached (2010). Initially the reargument was based on whether segregation violated the fourteenth amendment. Finally after three years, in 1954 the court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs when it considered that segregation of schools on the basis of race would deprive the minority groups equal educational opportunities as well as the morale of their children.
Relevance in today
The brown vs. board case was a huge leap towards desegregation of public schools. US in the 1950s was a segregated society with segregation in rest rooms and restaurant. The brown vs. board of education did not reverse segregation in these areas. However, the abolishment of racism owes its success to such landmark cases. Although the Supreme Court ruled segregation as unconstitutional in 21 states, it took relatively long for the enforcement of complete desegregation. Today all institutions are desegregated and accord equal opportunities to every individual regardless of race (Wilkins, 14). The education sector does not discriminate people on racial grounds. All these achievements truly owe their success to this and other similar landmark events.
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