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The Big Ten - Crucial Events in the Modern Civil Rights Movement - Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, KS - 1954

Segregated school for black children in Topeka, KS 0 Member Stories 0 Member Stories African American History American History American Presidents Assassinations Civil Rights Famous Historical Events Famous People Government History Law and Politics Social Studies The Kennedys

"Segregated school for black children in Topeka, KS", White southerners were vehemently against integrating public schools, American Public Television, Public Domain.

The education of children in the south has always been problematic.  White children only attended school about five or six months a year, then dropped out to help their support their families.  Rarely did children go past the sixth grade.  The vast majority of black children did not attend school at all because of racial discrimination.  They too were subject to the strictures of the agrarian lifestyle and left school to help support their families.  Few black children received more than a third-grade education. 

In the 1930s the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began a legal assault on segregated schools, starting first with the colleges and universities.  Their tactic?  They argued that the public schools did not meet the separate but equal standard of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).1 None of the colleges and universities in the eleven states of the old Confederacy had equal facilities as were called for in the Plessy case.  After several successful lawsuits that saw southern institutions of higher learning forced to admit black students, the organization was ready to take on the K through 12 system.  

Brown v Board of Education 2 consolidated several cases in several states, and the NAACP presented two arguments.  Based on the previous lawsuits against colleges and universities, the separate-but-equal-standard had been deemed unconstitutional.  Moreover, the United States Supreme Court for the first time heard and agreed with psychological evidence that said black children were emotionally harmed by being segregated in public schools.  The Court ruled that the segregation of public schools was unconstitutional, striking a major blow to the doctrine as stated in the Plessy case.

In what became known as Brown II in the following year, the Court said that the integration of public schools should be pursued "with all deliberate speed."

 

Original Release: May 27, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016


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