What Was the Outcome of Brown vs. Board of Education?

Learn about the historic Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education, which resulted in the desegregation of schools in the United States.

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The landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education resulted in a Supreme Court decision that declared segregated public schools unconstitutional. This case began when the parents of black children sued their local school districts, arguing that the “separate but equal” doctrine violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court consolidating these cases into one and ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that segregated schools were inherently unequal and therefore violated the Constitution. This decision resulted in the desegregation of public schools across America.

The Plessy Era

The Plessy Era was a time in America when “seperate but equal” facilities were allowed for blacks and whites. This case overturned that decision.

The Brown Era

Before Brown, American schools were both unequal and racially segregated. In the South, schools for African American children were usually grossly inferior to those provided for whites. In the North, de facto segregation existed in cities, where black children attended different schools from whites.

The effects of this separate but unequal education were far-reaching. African American children received an inferior education, which limited their employment prospects and economic mobility as adults. Additionally, segregation in education helped to perpetuate a sense of racial inferiority and furthered race relations problems in the United States.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education ended legal segregation in public schools and toppled the doctrine of “separate but equal” established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The decision was a victory for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, which argued the case on behalf of a group of African American parents in Topeka, Kansas. The parents contended that their children’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection had been violated by the state’s segregation laws.

Brown v. Board of Education did not immediately desegregate America’s public schools; however, it did lay the groundwork for future court cases and civil rights legislation that would help to dismantle the system of racial segregation in America.

The Aftermath of Brown

The court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education was just the beginning of the long struggle to end racial segregation in America’s public schools. In the years after the ruling, school districts across the country used a variety of strategies to resist integration. Some districts closed their schools rather than comply with the court’s order. Others refused to enroll black students or assigned them to all-black schools even if white schools had room for them.

Some states enacted laws designed to circumvent the court’s ruling. Alabama, for instance, passed a law requiring equal funding for all its public schools, regardless of whether they were integrated or not. This made it difficult for black students to attend desegregated schools because they were often not as well-funded as white ones.

The federal government was slow to act on the court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. In 1955, two years after the ruling, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) reluctantly sent troops to escort nine black students into an all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas (a case known as Cooper v.Aaron). But despite this show of force, many southern states continued to resist integration until 1963, when President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) finally issued a strong directive ordering them to comply with the law.

The following year, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in public places such as schools, workplaces and restaurants. The passage of this landmark legislation marked a major turning point in America’s long struggle for racial equality.

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