May 17, 1954: The Supreme Court unanimously rules public school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
Fifty-nine years ago today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a landmark case that the segregation of public schools was prohibited under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; newly-appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the opinion:
Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group…. We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.
The doctrine of “separate but equal” as justification for racial segregation emerged in the United States in the 1890s and was upheld in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Supreme Court ruled that states could enact racial segregation laws; in the South, this legitimized the dismantlement of Reconstruction Era reform and the South’s enactment of Jim Crow laws. Many states in the North/members of the Union during the Civil War also maintained racially segregated schools — it was the policy of the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that Oliver L. Brown and twelve other plaintiffs sought to challenge, after all. At the time, the Board’s policy permitted Topeka’s school districts to segregate their elementary and middle schools. Under the direction of the NAACP, each of the plaintiffs enrolled their children in local all-white schools and, when their children were refused enrollment, filed a class action suit in the District Court of Kansas, which subsequently ruled in favor of the Board. This decision took place in 1951.
The case that was heard by the Supreme Court in 1953 was a combination of five similar cases (all backed by the NAACP), including Brown v. Board, which lent the Supreme Court case its name. After much deliberation, including a request to rehear the case after the court failed to reach a decision the first time, the Warren Court banned (in a unanimous decision) the segregation of public schools. The justices were divided on how Brown could be enforced and on the issue of judicial activism versus restraint, though Warren pushed for unanimity to further legitimize the decision and prevent Southern resistance (it did not). Although Brown was a key decision and the first step toward the end of de jure segregation, the path to desegregation was long and rocky; Topeka desegregated its elementary schools within two years, but resistance in the South against the court’s decision and against desegregation was inexorable, resulting in incidents such as the Little Rock Crisis and other manifestations of what Virginian politicians dubbed “massive resistance”.
Brown vs. Board of Education
On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overturning “separate but equal” as unconstitutional, stating that segregation in public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment.
Four years earlier, members of the Topeka, Kansas, Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine governing public education through a class action suit when they were denied the opportunity to enroll their children in the white-only schools.
When the Topeka case made its way to the United States Supreme Court it was combined with other NAACP cases from Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. The combined cases became known as Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. The Board of Education of Topeka (KS).
You can see the original Complaint against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Court Order, and correspondences between President Eisenhower about Brown vs. Board of Education from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Papers as President here.
Pictured: Supreme Court Opinion of Brown vs. Board of Education, pages 1-3. 5/31/55.
-from the Eisenhower Library
T-Paining Too Much: The Meme-ification of Charles Ramsey
So many big questions to ask about Cleveland, so much to grapple with. So much that is unthinkable but needs so direly to be thought about. I feel like it’ll be a while before I can say anything intelligent about it. But in the meantime here are some thoughts about the side questions around the Charles Ramsey phenomenon.
As usual, J Smooth gets to the heart of it. If the joke is that obvious, perhaps we should pause over it?
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced her first piece of legislation. It’s called the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, and would reduce the rate students pay on federally-subsidized student loans for one year, from 3.4% to 0.75%.
Without congressional action, on July 1 the rate is set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%.
Warren brings up an interesting point – her bill simply asks students to pay the same rates that big banks pay for borrowing.
She’s literally just asking if college grads can get the same deal as bank CEOs. The exact same interest rate. Not even a bailout or anything fancy (pipe dreams!) - just the same interest rate.
- 37% increase in reported sexual assault cases was revealed by the Pentagon on Tuesday, just 24-hours after it was revealed that the head of the U.S. Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program was arrested on sexual assault charges. In total, 3,374 sexual…
This pretty much puts the lie to the notion of “overprotective male soldiers” looking out for their female comrades. It would be quaint if it weren’t so damn sad.
Mississippi to Execute Willie Manning Tonight After RejectingDNA Tests & FBI’s Admission of Error
The state of Mississippi is preparing to execute an African-American prisoner tonight, despite an unusual admission from the FBI that its original analysis of the evidence contained errors. Willie Jerome Manning was convicted of murdering Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, two white college students, in 1992. The execution is going ahead after prosecutors and state courts refused to allow new DNA testing that could prove Manning’s innocence. The Justice Department sent a letter saying one analyst’s testimony at trial “exceeded the limits of the science and was, therefore, invalid.” Manning’s attorneys argue that no physical evidence ties him to the murders and that testing hair samples and other evidence could identify a different killer. But in a 5-to-4 decision last month, Mississippi’s state supreme court refused to grant a new DNA test, citing what it called “conclusive, overwhelming evidence of guilt.” On top of the denied DNA test, Manning’s attorneys say prosecutors relied on two key witnesses whose credibility has since come under question. Concerns have also been raised about alleged racial bias in the selection of the jury that found Manning guilty. “We need someone to step in,” says Vanessa Potkin, a senior staff attorney at The Innocence Project. “It is unconscionable that an execution would go forward where there is biological evidence that can cut to the truth and show whether or not he did the crime. What is anybody afraid of?”
(via Democracy Now)
Oh dear God.
… you should keep your feuds with Michelle Malkin to a minimum.