It was a unanimous decision by the United State Supreme Court on May 17, 1954.  In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the supreme court handed down its ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.  In this specific case, Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

This segregation had been the accepted norm in public facilities ever since the Supreme court of 1896 ruled that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cards didn’t violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection in the case, Plessy v. Ferguson.  Unfortunately for Linda Brown, the segregated school that she was forced to attend was far below the quality of a white school that was nearer to her home.

Linda Brown on the right and her sister walking to school in 1953

Linda Brown walking to school with her sister in 1953

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) came in to support Linda.  When the case reached the supreme court, future Supreme Court Justice, African American Thurgood Marshall was the head of the legal team.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

Chief Justice, Earl Warren wrote the opinion for the case.  He wrote, “separate but equal” not only was unconditional in Linda Brown’s case, it was unconditional in all cases because educational segregation stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on African American Students.  A year later, the Supreme Court published guidelines for the integration with all deliberate speed.

Photo credit: Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and reuse restrictions may apply.

Photo credit: Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and reuse restrictions may apply.

As a result of Brown v. Board of Education, the civil rights movement of the 1950s ad 1960s was highly motivated to continue and ultimately led to the end of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.


2 responses

  1. Birgit says:

    I did not know about this little girl and the school issues. She paved the way for the high school students a few years later