POLS 210 B045 Fall 12
American Government I
Professor Carlos Soltero
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
This case dealt with racial segregation in a public school which was the norm across America in the early 1950’s. All schools in a given district were in fact supposed to be equal, however, most black schools were far inferior to white schools. This case was based on a black third grader by the name of Linda Brown in Topeka, Kansas, having to walk a mile through a railroad switchyard to get to her black elementary school even though a white elementary school was only seven blocks away from her home. Oliver Brown, Linda’s father, tried to enroll her in the white elementary school that was one seven blocks away but the principal of the school refused. Oliver Brown then commenced to McKinley Burnett which was the head of Topeka’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of ...view middle of the document...
The Board of Education’s defense was that because of the segregation in Topeka and elsewhere that this only prepared black children for the segregation they would face during adulthood. The court saw the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson which allowed separate but equal school systems for blacks and whites, and no Supreme ruling had overturned Plessy and because of the precedent of Plessy, the court felt almost compelled to rule in the favor of the Board of Education.
Brown and the NAACP appealed to the Supreme Court on October 1, 1951. Their case was combined with other cases that challenged school segregation in other states. The Supreme Court first heard the case on December 9, 1952 but failed to reach a decision so they reargued the case on December 7, 1953. The Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy for public education and ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and required the desegregation of schools across America. Education is possibly the most important function of state and local governments today. Attendance laws and the amount of money spent of our education system both demonstrate the recognition of the importance placed on education in our society. Education is required in the performance of the most basic public responsibilities which includes the service in our armed forces. A good education is the foundation of good citizenship and helps children from every walk of life understand cultural values and help him or her to adjust normally to their ever changing environment. It is very doubtful that any child today may reasonably be expected to succeed in every aspect of life is they are denied the opportunity of an education which is offered equally to every child. Education is the opportunity offered to all and is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. “Brown v. Board of Education, widely celebrated as a promise to end segregation and bring about racial equality, stirred a reconceptualization of substantive equal protection and great optimism in a more moral American social order.” (Frampton, 2004)
Frampton, M. L. (2004). Collaboration: The True Spirit of Brown v. Board of Education. Berkeley Women's Law Journal , 19 (2).