August 23, 2014
A Summary of Brown v. Board of Education and Its Ruling
The Brown v. Board of Education (1954) case approached the morality and constitutionality of the segregation of white and “Negro” students in a public school setting. To be clear, as words have changed connotations since 1954, “Negro” is a term used for people of African descent, and, to uphold consistency, will be the term used in this paper. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) overruled the Plessy v. Fergson (1896) case, which affected the rulings of multiple cases involving this topic before Brown v Board of Education (1954). The opinion of the Court, delivered by Mr. Chief Justice Warren, describes the affects segregation in education has on Negro students and the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of the Plessy v. Fergson (1896) ruling. The opinion of the Court also contributed information from multiple cases dealing with this topic to give the ruling legitimacy. In the Plessy v. Fergson (1896) case, the “separate but equal” doctrine appeared. This doctrine will be referred to throughout this essay, given that many of the rulings involving this topic were made on the grounds of this doctrine. This case was brought about when Homer Plessy, a Negro man, was arrested for sitting in the white section of a train in Louisiana. Plessy’s lawyer argued that segregation violated the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments. The ruling stated that facilities separated by race and remained equal were constitutional. This doctrine, as mentioned, affected many cases that dealt with segregation in public education. In all but Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the legitimacy of the doctrine was never questioned (Wormser). Many cases were considered in the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) other than the case itself; a few were Briggs v. Elliot (1952), Davis v. County School Board (1952), and Gebhart v. Belton (1952). The case Brown v. Board of Education (1954) involved Negro elementary students who lived in Topeka, Kansas. The Topeka Board of Education created segregated elementary schools and was allowed to do so under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Briggs v. Elliott (1952) involved Negro students who lived in Clarendon County, South Carolina. The Negro educational facilities were found to be substandard in comparison to white educational facilities. It was ordered for the Negro facilities to go through an equalization program; the Negro students were denied access to the white educational facilities during the program. Davis v. County School Board (1952) involved Negro high school students who lived in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Like Briggs v. Elliott (1952) the Negro facilities were concluded to be inferior, but the Negro students were denied access to the white schools while the Negro schools went through equalization. In all of these cases, Negro students were denied access to white schools; however, in the case Gebhart v. Belton (1952), Negro elementary and Negro high school students living in New Castle County, Delaware were allowed admission into white educational facilities due to Negro education facilities falling behind in multiple areas. In the opinion of the Court, the fourteenth amendment is cited as one of the many reasoning for overruling Plessy v Fergenson (1896). The fourteenth amendment, accepted in 1868, states: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This amendment is legally upheld in the doctrine “separate but equal;” however, the idea that “separate is equal” is able to be utilized in an...
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