What was the significance of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Court?
- 4 years agoFavorite Answer
Brown v. Board of Education developed from several court cases involving school segregation. One of these cases, based in Clarendon County, South Carolina, illustrated the unfairness of segregation. In the 1949-1950 school year the average annual expenditure for white students in Clarendon County totaled $179, but for blacks it was only $43. The county’s 6531 black students attended school in 61 buildings valued at $194,575. Many of the black schools lacked indoor plumbing or heating. The 2375 white students in the county attended school in 12 buildings worth $673,850. These buildings had far superior facilities. Teachers in the black schools received, on average, salaries that were one-third less than teachers in the white schools. In addition, the county provided free school buses for whites but failed to provide them for blacks. These circumstances led blacks in Clarendon County to sue to create equal schools. In the case, Briggs v. Elliott (1950), the United States district court in South Carolina ordered equal funding of black schools but refused to mandate racial integration of the schools.
Meanwhile, in Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, and the District of Columbia, other cases emerged in the early 1950s that challenged the legality of racially segregated schools. These cases were consolidated into one case that became known as Brown v. Board of Education, named after the lead plaintiff in the Kansas case, Oliver Brown.
Brown filed the suit against the Topeka Board of Education on behalf of his daughter, Linda Brown. At age seven, Linda Brown had to travel 1 hour and 20 minutes each morning to her segregated school for black children. If her bus was on time, it dropped her off at school a half hour before the school opened. Her bus stop was 6 blocks from her home, across a hazardous railroad yard, and her school was 21 blocks from her home. Linda Brown’s white friends attended a local school only 7 blocks from her home. They did not have to ride a bus or face dangerous crossings to reach their school. Oliver Brown argued that he wanted the same conditions for his daughter.
As chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Thurgood Marshall planned the strategy for arguing Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court. In representing Linda Brown, he argued that the “equal protection clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States requires that states treat all citizens alike, regardless of race.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in the Brown case in 1952, but the justices did not decide the case that year. Political divisions on the court ran deep, and the weak leadership of Chief Justice Frederick Moore Vinson made a decisive ruling unlikely. The court scheduled reargument in case for 1953, but Vinson died before arguments began. His replacement, former California governor Earl Warren, was a skilled politician who brought renewed authority to the court. Moreover, Warren believed that segregation was fundamentally wrong. He successfully persuaded all of the other eight justices to support a single opinion to end segregation. Warren himself wrote the statement of the court’s decision, a document known as the opinion of the court. Warren’s opinion explained the context of the law in regards to the case, and detailed the reasons why the court reached its judgment. It was his first major judicial opinion since joining the court that year.
The question before the court was simple: “Was segregated education unconstitutional?” In the first half of his opinion, Warren did not answer that question, and he gave no hint of the decision the court would make. Reading the opinion in a courtroom packed with news reporters, he simply explained the facts of the cases before him and the history of the American doctrine of “separate but equal.” Warren acknowledged that the history of the law regarding segregation was inconclusive, particularly as it was addressed in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, requires that every state give equal protection under the law to all persons, without regard to race. Warren reviewed the histories of the 14th Amendment, public education, and segregation. Then, speaking for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Warren concluded, “In approaching this problem, we cannot turn the clock back to 1868 when the amendment was adopted, or even to 1896 when Plessy v. Ferguson was written. We must consider public education in the light of its full development and its present place in American life throughout the Nation.”
Warren stressed the importance of education to a democratic society, claiming that education is “perhaps the most important function of state and local governments.” He emphasized that “It is the very foundation of good citizenship.” Warren then restated the original question before the court and provided an answer: “Does segregation of children in the public schools solely on
- MelLv 74 years ago
The significance was the end of the "separate but equal" policy of education. According to this ruling, only INTEGRATED schools satisfy the concept of equal treatment.
- Anonymous4 years ago
Are you UTTERLY stupid?
- 4 years ago