spring-2004-school-headline

On May 16th, 1954, schools were segregated as usual, supported by laws asserting that as long as the children’s education was equal, it was okay to separate black and white children. However, the children were not receiving equal education, and on May 17th, 1954, a unanimous supreme court decision cased everything to change. Oliver Brown, the namesake of this landmark case, was one of several parents who had the courage to speak out against the inequalities that their children were facing and brought this case to life when they filed suit against the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education.

In this case’s early existence, federal courts ruled against Brown, mainly using Plessy v. Ferguson as support for the concept that everything is constitutional as long as they are equal. However, as Brown argued and many parents knew, the black children were not getting equal education and equal opportunities. Quality of schooling was and still is a huge tool for later success in life, and allowing the black children to be put at a clear disadvantage through segregation was unconstitutional and violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights. Brown then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

When the Supreme Court received Brown v. Board, the decision seemed to come easily. The court unanimously ruled that the children were being denied equal protection under the law, confirming this was in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights, and included the idea that putting black children at such a disadvantage only proves to create unnecessary current and future life challenges that could damage their ability to be a good, productive citizen, as well as created inferiority complexes. This unanimous decision was huge as now African American citizens had a constitutional ruling on their side when it came to segregation. Previously, segregation was protected, ignoring the negative implications of such behavior.

After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling was handed down, it was a huge celebratory moment for the oppressed. A very symbolic measure was handed down to show that segregation is unacceptable and their was hope for the racial inequalities suffered by so many black citizens. Unfortunately, as you may have already guessed, not everyone was pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Desegregation of schools were largely held off by the southern states until the late 1960’s and even into the 1970’s, and some states were forced by later rulings to officially desegregate their schools. However, no matter which way you look at it, America had finally made a stride in the right direction towards supporting the equal rights of all citizens.