History of Brown v. Board of Education
Race relations in the United States had been subjugated by racial segregation for a great deal of the sixty years preceding the Brown case. Brown v. Board of Education was actually the name specified to five separate cases that were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the issue of segregation in public schools. These cases were Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (VA.), Boiling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel. Although the details of each case are vary, the major issue in each was the constitutionality of state-sponsored segregation in public schools. These cases were carried out by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP. A three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court that first listened to the cases acknowledged some of the plaintiffs’ claims, yet still ruled in favor of the school boards. The plaintiffs subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. When the cases were presented to the Supreme Court in 1952, the Court consolidated all five cases under the name of Brown v. Board of Education. Marshall personally disputed the case before the court. Marshall lifted a variety of legal issues on appeal. The most common issue he raised was that separate school systems for blacks and whites were innately unequal, and thus, violate the "equal protection clause" of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Marshall also argued that segregated school systems had a tendency to make black children feel lesser to white children, and thus, such a system should not be legally acceptable. Marshall relied on sociological tests, such as the one performed by social scientist Kenneth Clark, as well as other data, to present such an argument. The Justices of the Supreme Court recognized that they were intensely at odds over the issues raised after they had met. While most wanted to reverse Plessy and declare segregation in public schools to be...
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