Brown v. Board of Education

By Khris & Matt 1B


The Brown case began in Topeka, Kansas, at the beginning of the 1950 school year, when Oliver Brown was told that his eight-year-old daughter Linda could not attend the neighborhood elementary school four blocks from their home. The principal of the school explained to Brown that Kansas law required African-Americans to attend segregated schools. Brown joined with other African-American families to protest the law and engaged the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to argue their cause. They started a lawsuit against the board of education of Topeka, claiming that segregation violated their children's constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. For four years they lost their case, appealing it to progressively higher courts. In 1954 Brown v. Board of Education reached the U.S. Supreme Court along with three other similar cases.

The Impact

The Brown decision hit the country like a bombshell. Reversing segregation was not going to come easily, and the Court realized the tremendous resistance local politicians and school boards would have to its decision. Therefore the Brown decision called for a reargument on the issue of how to bring about the constitutional mandate of desegregation. The following year, in Brown II, the Warren Court charged local federal district courts with the task of assessing local obstacles to integration and deciding whether local school boards were implementing good-faith attempts at desegregation. The nation's public schools were ordered to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."

Brown v. Board of Education in PBS' The Supreme Court