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Desegregating Education

The first attack on the Jim Crow Laws www.explaininghistory.com

A Supreme Court ruling in 1954, however, would turn Plessey VS Ferguson on its head. The plaintiffs in Brown asserted that racial separation, while masquerading as providing separate but equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black Americans.

The court ruling Plessey VS Ferguson in 1896 had established that as long as facilities were of equal quality it was legal for them to be segregated. This applied to education particularly.

A court case in 1954


challenged segregation in education. The case of Brown VS The Board of Education Topeka Kansas was brought by the NAACP's chief legal advisor Thurgood Marshall. Southern states spent many times more on white education than black.

education so important to Southern states?

The Rev. Oliver Brown


lived in Topeka, Kansas, and had an eight year old daughter who had to travel 21 blocks to get to her school despite the fact that there was one just 7 blocks from her home. The one nearest her home was for white children only. Her school was decidedly inferior to

Question (Easy)Why was


preventing equal

the one nearest to her. This was not "separate but equal". It was separate and known to be inferior. He, along with the NAACP, took the state to the Supreme Court.

unconstitutional effect of segregation?

Some southern states


complied with the law and publically stated that they would not do anything to interfere with the ruling. The governor of Alabama, Jim Folson, said "When the Supreme Court speaks, thats the law." His equivalent in Arkansas said "Arkansas will obey the law. It always has." By the end of 1957, 723 school districts in the south had desegregated their schools.

Question (Medium) Why


was this a very dangerous and brave thing for him to do?

black children could get to their school - though what these children felt once inside their school is difcult to imagine. The same type of obstruction happened in Manseld, Texas where Texas Rangers were used to implement the law.

The head of the Supreme


Court at this time was the liberal Earl Warren. He had been appointed by Eisenhower and made it clear he would try to stop the worst abuses of the South.

In 1956, a young African


American female Autherine Lucy - was nearly lynched when she tried to enrol at the University of Alabama. The university expelled her and she had to ee the area.

His decision outlawed


segregation. He said: "In the eld of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. (Segregation) generates a feeling of inferiority (among students) as to their status within the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone."

Also in 1956, a mob of


2,000 whites stopped African American children entering a school in Clinton, Tennessee. Desegregation was only carried out here after the intervention of the National Guard who used tanks and other military vehicles to ensure that

Question (Advanced)
Read Warren's words carefully. What is Warren suggesting is the most harmful and