Brown V. Board of Education

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Race & The Law

Final paper

Brown v Board of Education is a historical landmark case that dismantled segregation laws and established a great milestone in the movement toward true equality. The Supreme Courts unanimously decided on Brown v. Board of Education that "separate but equal is inherently unequal." Ruling that no state had the power to pass a law that deprived anyone from his or her 14th amendment rights. For my historical analysis I will use Richard Kluger’s “Simple Justice”, in which he argues, “that the Declaration of Independence was marred by hypocrisy—all men were not equal if black”. His book will assist me in learning the policies that lead to and surrounded this case. Using interviews I conducted, where I questioned inner city high school students of their schooling experience in comparison to my brother who attends a predominately white privileged private school, I will ultimately uncover the many inequalities that still exist today. While researching I interviewed my great-Aunt Bertha, who grew up in the state of Mississippi, she had a first-hand experience of life before Brown v Board of Education and life after the Supreme Court ruled on the case, her life was changed forever. My research will focus on not only a historical analysis of what occurred, but how far America has claimed to truly come in dealings with race relations, and the inequalities that still exist today.

The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States also known as the “Union” and the few southern states that announced their separation from the United States known as the “Confederates”. The war was based mainly on differing opinions on the issue of slavery. The war lasted about four years and the results yielded in the Confederacy being defeated by the Union. Upon defeating the Confederates, the Union abolished slavery. From that moment on the process of rebuilding the Union as a strong united nation began. This Union was to guarantee freedom to slaves and began the process of having former slaves obtain rights entitled to all citizens. Once the Civil War had ended, so did the policy of legal slavery. However former Confederate leaders did not intend on allowing the former slaves to have all the same rights as whites nor did they intend for former slaves to be counted equally as citizens. Just before the end of the war, congress had passed the Morrill Act of 1862. This act was to provide for federal funding of higher education. Former slave-holding states decided to find loop holes in allowing former slaves to benefit from the new federal funding as they were not ready to asked them as citizens or even human for that matter. Post-Civil War, the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution granted equal protection under the law to all citizens. Although the amendment was put into effect Congress knew the transition from slave to citizen with a hand full of rights would be difficult for former slaves so to help with the transition process Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau. This program was created to assist in the integration of former slave into society as citizens. At the end of the reconstruction period in 1877 former Confederate states implemented random laws that would blatantly go against the federal law and the constitutional right granted by the 14th amendment to all including African Americans for equal treatment under the law. Southern state believed they could somehow obey federal orders by having equality yet keeping order by having races remain separate. For many years the court at both state and federal level claimed the 14th amendment applied only to federal, not state, citizenship, therefore they had no control over how a state thought to treat or label an African American on their land. This was proven true of the court in the 1863 Civil Rights Case heard before the Supreme Court. This case was made up of five lower level court cases and made into one because...
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