On May 17, 1954, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivered a ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case. It was determined that state sanctioned segregation was a violation of the 14th Amendment and therefore unconstitutional. This nullified the ruling of the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896, which allowed states to maintain segregated schools.
Oliver Brown was one of the plaintiffs in this court case. He filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas after his daughter (Linda Brown) was denied entrance to an all-white elementary school. The U.S. District Court in Kansas upheld the Board of Education’s decision. Brown’s case and four other cases related to school segregation were put together into one and brought to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, served as the head attorney for the plaintiffs.
In the unanimous decision, Supreme Court Justice Earl wrote “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
To learn more about the Brown v. Board of Education case and its significance in history, visit the History Channel online.
The Yonkers Public History has created a collection of books about the Brown v. Board of Education case. You can place these items on hold and pick them up at any branch of the Yonkers Public Library.