Brown v. Board of Education

What happened?

A previous Supreme Court case (Plessy v. Ferguson) allowed segregation of schools along racial lines under the doctrine “separate but equal”.  The daughter of Oliver Brown had to walk a distance to get to a bus stop to take her to her segregated school while there was a white school just 7 blocks away from their house.  Thirteen other parents joined Brown in a class-action lawsuit against the Kansas Board of Education challenging the constitutionality of state laws supporting segregation.

What did the Court decide?

The Court unanimously (9-0) overturned Plessy and found that racial segregation of schools violated the 14th amendment under the “equal protection” clause.  The Court found that not only was “separate but equal” unconstitutional but it was harmful to children and to society.

Why is it important?

Brown ended segregation and was a major civil rights victory.  It paved the way for future civil rights advances, culminating with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Leave a Comment