Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Lenora Beard- Group D

What was happening around America?

Vietnam War: November 1, 1955- April 30, 1975

The Vietnam War was a manifestation of the Cold War. America started getting involved in the war because they wanted to stop the spread of communism. America was there not to win a war but to draw a line. The line being the boundary between North and South Vietnam.


Argued: October 12, 1970

Decided: April 20, 1971

Held at: Mecklenburg County Superior Court

This case argued against segregation in schools and what defined the 14th amendment.

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Basics and Issue

After the court case, Brown v. Board of Education, there was still segregation between schools. Fourteen thousand African American students attended schools that were totally black or 99 percent black. The South was more reluctant towards allowing black kids to attend school with white kids. Busing was used to ensure that there was still segregation between whites and blacks. The NAACP on behalf of Vera and Darius Swann along with nine other families sued the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. They wanted their six year old son, James Swann to attend Seversville Elementary School, the school closest to their home and one of Charlotte's few integrated schools.


The case was filed and taken by Judge James McMillian in the federal court. James thought that busing students was the only way to fulfill the constitutional requirement of desegregation. The District court asked to submit a desegregation plan. The decision was appealed and the plans were affirmed by the the Court of Appeal. However, this plan didn't include elementary schools. McMillian decided to follow his original plan for elementary school students when the case was remanded to him. It was then taken to the supreme court under Julius Chambers.

Supreme Court Vote

In a unanimous decision, 9-0 the court decided that segregation was unconstitutional. Segregation was against the 14th amendment which guaranteed everyone be equal and due process of law. There could be no specific guidelines concerning the busing of students to a particular school. This busing strategy later paved the way for other school systems and played an instrumental role in integrating public schools.