America during the 1950??™s was not so much a land of the free and the brave but a land of the suppressed and discriminated, segregation was the norm. Ideally, all schools should have been equally set up and equally administered but this was not the case as we now know, most of the black schools that existed during this time were far below the standard of their white counterparts. All across the country several black students protested and even made the extremely difficult and daring decision of attending a white school. Take the case of Linda Brown in Topeka, Kansas who had to journey one mile down a railroad in order to reach her ???black??? school while just seven blocks from her house there was a school. However, she could not attend the aforementioned school because of her skin color seeing as this school was entirely composed of white skinned students at the time. Needless to say Oliver Brown, Linda??™s father, sought justice and initiated what came to be known as Brown v. Board of Education, a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The Board of Education argued that segregation in schools facilitated the understanding of and prepared black children for the segregation they would face as time went on and they got older. In saying this, the board essentially stated that there was no way for blacks to escape segregation and so even as small children they should be exposed to it because that is what their future would inadvertently consist of. This might have angered some because in short, it meant that blacks would forever be oppressed. Another argument made by the board was that black schools weren??™t at all harmful to black children and that this was exemplified by those like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, and George Washington Carver. However, in saying this they overlooked the many others who failed to receive an education or who received an education far more inferior than that given to white students of the same county. The NAACP and Brown made a statement that counteracted the separate but equal doctrine set up after the Plessy v. Ferguson case, essentially saying that segregation in schools would eventually lead to black children feeling inferior and so separate was therefore not exactly equal. The court did come to a revealing and favorable conclusion, stating that ???segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children…A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn.??? For once a powerful institution, in this case the United States Supreme Court, recognized flaws in a system that was slowly crumbling and would inadvertently cause its own demise. African Americans finally had a voice, even if only a small one.
On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren read the ultimate decision of the unanimous court which goes as follows:
“We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities We believe that it does…We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.???
In short, the court struck down on the separate but equal doctrine established by Plessy v. Ferguson and required the desegregation of schools all across America. This was the first stepping stone towards complete and utter desegregation not only in schools, but in all aspects of life. Racial equality soon became a possibility rather than a distant dream. While the decision made by the Supreme Court was at its core what was needed at the time, it should have been implemented much more strictly which would have made it far more effective.
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