1950's

Brown V. Board of Education

By Lisa Martin

1954, the Supreme Court gave its ruling of the Brown V. Board of Education case.  Oliver Brown had sued the Topeka Board of Education because his daughter had to go to a segregated school for African-Americans.  The rout to her bus stop was hazardous and the segregated school was three times further away from their house than the school for whites.  Brown wanted his daughter to be able to go to the closer school without the dangerous rout to get to it.

There had been similar court cases in the past, but none of them had ever made any progress in desegregating schools.  Brown’s suit was up against years of prejudice, Southern segregation tradition, and the previous “separate but equal” ruling the Supreme Court had made years earlier.  News reporters flocked to the court to learn what this new monumental case would decree.

Finally, the Chief Justice gave the Court ruling:  Segregation was unconstitutional.  It damaged minority children to be segregated based on nothing but their race.  The decision completely overturned the previous “Separate but Equal” policy and was a major victory for Civil Rights Activists.

But the Court’s announcement did not take immediate effect.  The courts only urged schools to integrate their classes as soon as possible, which let the pro-segregation Southerners stall for years.  Brown’s daughter waited until she was in junior high before she was able to attend an integrated school.  None of the children from the previous court cases ever went to an integrated school.

Though not immediately effective, the Brown V. Board of Education Case was pivotal in the fight for Civil Rights.  After the ruling that separate but equal was unlawful, more and more courts ruled against segregation in all forms.

 

The Brown Family