What Happened in the Brown vs Board of Education Case?

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the landmark case of Brown vs Board of Education. This case was instrumental in desegregating public schools in the United States, and we’ll be exploring what happened during and after the case was decided.

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Introduction

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas was decided on May 17, 1954. The case overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 that had allowed state-sponsored segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of “separate but equal” status for blacks. Segregation in education was determined to be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court’s opinion declared:

We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal… Even if we were to assume that segregated schools were otherwise equal, separate educational facilities would deprive Negro children of some measure of motivation which is an important element leading to success in life… Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected. We hold that the segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of negroes… We conclude that, notwithstanding its good faith, the board’s actions deprived negro children… of their constitutional right to education opportunities on a non-discriminatory basis.”

What was the Brown vs Board of Education case about?

The Brown vs Board of Education case was about segregation in public schools. The case was filed in 1954 and it was ruled in 1955 that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. This case was a key moment in the civil rights movement.

The plaintiffs in the case

The Brown v. Board of Education case originated in Topeka, Kansas. The plaintiffs were thirteen parents on behalf of their twenty children. The children had been denied admission to their local schools because of their race and were instead required to travel to separate black schools that were far inferior to the white schools.

The plaintiffs argued that the segregation of the schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed that all citizens would be treated equally by the law. They also argued that segregation harmed black children by preventing them from receiving an equal education.

The case was originally filed in 1951, but it took three years for it to finally reach the Supreme Court. In 1954, the Court issued its decision in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

This decision paved the way for increased integration in public schools across the United States and helped to make education a more equal playing field for all students, regardless of race.

The defendants in the case

The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the framework for the desegregation of public schools in America. On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court announced its unanimous decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. This case overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine set forth in Plessy v. Ferguson, a case decided just fifty-eight years earlier. “Separate but equal” allowed state-sponsored segregation in public facilities such as schools, transportation, and restrooms. The Court’s decision sparked a social revolution that helped bring an end to legally sanctioned discrimination against African Americans.

The defendants in the case were thirteen states that had laws mandating or permitting segregation in public schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The class-action lawsuit was originally filed on behalf of twenty-one plaintiffs who asserted that segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

The arguments of the parties

The plaintiffs in the case were black parents of children who attended overcrowded, underfunded all-black schools. They argued that the state-mandated segregation of public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The defendant in the case, the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, claimed that the segregated schools were “separate but equal” and did not violate the Constitution.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” public schools were unconstitutional. The Court held that segregation of public schools “inherently unequal” and violated the Equal Protection Clause. As a result of the Brown decision, school districts across America began to integrate their schools.

The court’s decision in the case

The Brown v. Board of Education case was a turning point in the history of the United States. The court’s decision ended the legal segregation of public schools and set a precedent for other cases that would end segregation in other public places. The court’s decision also helped to launch the civil rights movement.

The court’s reasoning

When the Court handed down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, it changed American society irrevocably and laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement. In its decision, the Court stated that “separate but equal” facilities were inherently unequal and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision was based on several factors, including:
-The research of psychologist Kenneth B. Clark, which showed that black children internalized the messages of inferiority that came from separate but equal treatment
-The testimony of Sociologist Gunnar Myrdal, who said that separate but equal was damaging to both white and black Americans
-The opinions of Experts who said that segregated schools put black children at a disadvantage both socially and educationally

The impact of the decision

The result of the case was that the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine was ruled to be unconstitutional. This had a huge impact on education in America. Before this ruling, many schools were segregated and black children received an inferior education. This ruling changed all that and helped to create a more equal society.

Conclusion

In May of 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. This decision overturned the previous ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, which said that “separate but equal” facilities were constitutional. The Brown decision led to the integration of public schools across the United States.

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