Brown v. Board of Education

The Court Overturns One of It's Own Decisions

Historical Context

After Plessy lost his case in 1896, Jim Crow laws, which are basically segregation laws, became much more common and relatively more strictly enforced. After all, the Plessy case legalized segregation basically in all public facilities like schools. Before the Brown v. Board of Education case was introduced, there was a big gap of time from the Plessy case to change people's minds about how constitutional is the separate but equal doctrine. While the southern states persisted to maintain segregation, there were organizations that persisted to remove segregation. One organization that took great part in abolishing segregation was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which constantly tried to fight back on racism. These organizations poked at the major weaknesses of segregation, like education. After case after case, points of views changed and segregation gradually began subsiding to the ultimate case that determined the actual constitutionality of segregation: Brown v. Board of Education.

Facts of the Case

This case is not actually one case. However, it took place over five different cases, but these cases all pertained to the same thing; racial segregation in schools. According to, the names of the cases are as follows: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (VA.), Boiling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel. Important characters that took great part in arguing these cases over were the NAACP organization and Thurgood Marshall. Marshall argued that segregation should be put an end to, with a principal argument that separate school systems are downright a violation of the equal protection clause and that kids get a feeling of inferiority. In the process of determining the case, Supreme Court justices could not come up with a consensus, so they postponed the case. Meanwhile, Chief Justice Fred Vinson had passed away, later replaced by Gov. Earl Warren. Although the justices were not one-sided before the postpone, Warren was able to agree the justices to a unanimous vote that racial segregation is not constitutional.
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The Questions Before The Court

Is the requirement of racial segregation in public schools within constitutional boundaries and does it violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment?

The Court's Decision

The court unanimously agreed that racial segregation does indeed violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. Kids would get taken over by the feeling of inferiority and not succeed in life without the right environment. According to Chief Justice Earl Warren, the "equal but separate is constitutional" doctrine no longer held true, and by unanimously agreeing, the court overturned one of its own but worst decisions.

Impact of the Case

People started to gradually treat "colored" people in less harsh ways, because now all people were equal. African Americans got more rights as a U.S. citizen, and the government were less abusive to African Americans. The impact of this case was very notable; this decision took back their decision almost 60 years ago.