S: Brown v. Board of Education - We Were There
BC: Image resources: "Oxford AASC: Focus On Brown v. Board of Education." Oxford AASC: Home. Web. 04 May 2011.
FC: Brown v. Board of Education We Were There
2: "We conclude that the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”. These words from the Supreme Court Decision of Brown v. Board of Education lit the spark for the Civil Rights Movement.
3: Jim Crow laws dominated life in the South after the Civil War. Two worlds developed - one for whites, and one for blacks - and the Supreme Court supported the system in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, making segregation legal if it was "separate but equal".
4: Public schools had been segregated in the South since the Civil War, and the schools for blacks were in no way equal to those for whites. It was argued by Thurgood Marshall, one of the lawyers on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, that the segregated schools gave blacks a “badge of inferiority”.
5: Linda Brown was a 7 year old girl who went to school in Topeka Kansas. She had to walk through a dangerous train switching yard, wait for a bus in all types of foul weather, climb on the bus that was often late and spend another 30 minutes on the bus to get to her all black school, sometimes waiting a half an hour before the doors opened – even though there was a white school, called Sumner School, only 7 blocks away.
6: Oliver Brown took the school district to court, but the district court decided that separate schools were constitutional as long as they were equal. Because of the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, the “separate but equal” doctrine was hard to overturn. | Cases against school segregation had been argued and won for universities, but none for public schools in the South. The Brown case was actually a collection of five similar cases about the unfairness of segregated schools. By putting the cases together, the issue was much larger, and affected more students.
7: Thurgood Marshall and his colleagues stated that the Supreme Court had misinterpreted the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Equal protection of the laws did not allow for racial segregation. The Fourteenth Amendment allowed the government to prohibit any discriminatory state action based on race, including segregated public schools. | In the Supreme Court, the opponents of integration argued that the Constitution did not require white and African American children to attend the same schools, and states should be left free to regulate their own affairs. More importantly, they said that segregation was not harmful to black people.
8: Testing by two psychologists showed the harmful effects of segregation on the minds of African American children. Using children’s dolls, psychologists Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark found that black children usually wanted to play with white dolls over black ones, and children assigned "good" and "pretty" traits to the white dolls, and "bad" and "ugly" traits to the black dolls. | In his closing argument, Marshall argued that the only way the court could uphold segregation was if they convincingly believed that blacks were inferior to whites and that they should be kept in conditions close to slavery. He concluded with "And now is the time, we submit, that this court should make it clear that that is not what our Constitution stands for".
9: The decision was finally read by Chief Justice Warren on May 17, 1954. In their unanimous decision, the Court overturned the Plessy decision from a half century before and set the stage for our future fights for justice and equality. I can still remember the New York Times remarking that “the Court, the guardian of our national conscience, has reaffirmed its faith—and the undying American faith—in the equality of all men and all children before the law."
10: Southern states will be slow to comply with the Court's decision, and few formerly segregated schools will be integrated quickly, even though the court has ruled that integration should happen "with all deliberate speed".
11: The legacy of the decision is not only the spark of the Civil Rights Movement, but the smiles on children's faces as they joined together in learning and growing.