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U.S. Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

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Presentation on theme: "U.S. Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)"— Presentation transcript:

1 U.S. Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Charles Houston Thurgood Marshall Earl Warren

2 Background Charles Houston
Attended Amherst College and Harvard Law School. He became the first African‐American member of the Harvard Law Review in 1921. Joined the law faculty at Howard University in 1924, where he was academic dean from 1929 to 1935. Was head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund from 1933 until his death in 1950.

3 Background: Thurgood Marshall
Born July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, MD. Received his B.A. degree from Lincoln University in 1930. Studied under Charles Houston and graduated first in his class from Howard Law School in 1933. He was enlisted to help with the civil rights battles being waged by the NAACP after graduation. Took over the Legal Defense Fund, after Houston’s death in 1950. Argued the Brown v. BOE case for the first time in 1952. A divided court asked to have the case reargued in October 1953. On May 17, 1954, the court unanimously ruled in favor of Brown.

4 Background: Chief Justice Earl Warren
Chief Justice Fred Vinson President Dwight Eisenhower Background: Chief Justice Earl Warren Chief Justice Earl Warren Republican attorney, who served as governor of California from Warren lost the presidential nomination in 1952 to Eisenhower. President Eisenhower nominated Warren for the Supreme Court and was sworn in as Chief Justice on October 5, 1953. Eisenhower later regretted his choice. He had hoped to appoint a moderate conservative, but Warren proved to be an unabashed liberal.

5 Historical Background
Linda Brown was a young black girl that was a student in a segregated school. She had to cross railroad tracks and ride a school bus twenty-one blocks to a black school, even though there was a white school only five blocks away. The attorneys forced the court to answer why African Americans were singled out for different treatment. The attorneys also made the point that racial segregation deprives students of important interaction with others that enhances learning on May 17, The courts ruled in favor of desegregation on the grounds that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal since they deprive minority student’s equal educational opportunities essential to their success in life.

6 Calvert, De León, Cantrell, p. 370.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION OF PUBLIC EDUCATION FOCUSED ON THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY. THE INTEGRATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS MET STRONG WHITE OPPOSITION. “Americans had always believed that the public schools were agents for social advancement, and the possibility of integration conjured up white persons’ fears of interracial marriages, moral decay, and collapsing academic standards. Besides, for most white Texans, segregated public institutions validated the presumed inferiority of black persons.” (p. 370) Calvert, De León, Cantrell, p. 370.

7 Calvert, De León, Cantrell, pp. 370-371.
SWEATT v. PAINTER: Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP argued that lawsuits forcing black enrollment in professional and graduate schools would least antagonize whites. The NAACP decided to sue the University of Texas for the admission of a black student to its school of law on the grounds that no school in Texas offered black people a law education. Heman Marion Sweatt, a Houston post office employee, agreed to become the plaintiff and seek admittance to U.T.’s law school. The conservative leadership in the state attempted to thwart the suit by broadening educational programs at Prairie View State Norman and Industrial College and changing the name of that institution to Prairie View University, incorporating Texas Southern University into the state system, and establishing an all-black law school in the basement of the state capitol. Calvert, De León, Cantrell, pp In response, NAACP attorneys changed their strategy to one that argued that the University of Texas’s excellent reputation in law meant that any rival segregated institution necessarily offered an inferior degree. The Supreme Court agreed in the 1950 Sweatt v. Painter decision and ordered the integration of U.T.’s law school. Thurgood Marshall with James Nabrit Jr. and George E.C. Hayes after their victory in the Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court, May 17, 1954.

8 The Fiftieth Legislature established Texas Southern University and expanded graduate education at Prairie View A&M in an attempt to thwart Heman Sweatt's application to enter the University of Texas.

9 Calvert, De León, Cantrell, p. 372.
In Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were inherently unequal and thus unconstitutional. A public opinion poll reported in 1955 that white Texans opposed integration by four to one, whereas black Texans supported desegregation by two to one. Court Decision: “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” NAACP lawyers congratulate each other on the decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). Attorney Thurgood Marshall, center, was later named the first African American justice of the Supreme Court. Calvert, De León, Cantrell, p. 372. Linda Brown and her new class mates after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

10 Case Background The case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas combined four cases challenging racial segregation in public schools. In addition to Topeka, districts in Delaware, South Carolina, and Virginia participated in the lawsuit. In Brown v. Board, 13 parents of 20 students filed suit in the U.S District Court of Kansas to challenge the 1896 ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson, which made racial segregation legal through its "separate but equal" clause.

11 Case Background Cont. A Kansas statute allowed cities with populations of over 15,000 to provide separate schools for African-American and white students. These 13 parents were urged by the NAACP to enroll their children in neighborhood schools, rather than allow them to be bussed to one of the four African-American schools. Each of the students was denied enrollment. When heard in the U.S District Court, the court concurred that segregation was harmful to the African-American students. However, the ruling itself favored the school board, and enrollment for these students was denied.

12 Main Points Separate is inherently unequal.
“The plaintiffs contend that segregated public schools are not “equal” and cannot be made “equal,” and that hence they are deprived of the equal protection of the laws…” “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

13 Main Points Cont. Education is a right, not a privilege.
"In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he (or she) is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms."

14 Main Points Cont. Segregation is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment because it denied people equal protection of the law. “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.” “Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.” “This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment…”

15 After the Courts Ruling
Massive resistance followed the decision. Rather than desegregate as ordered by the U. S. Supreme Court, some state governments defied the Court National Guard troops were called out to escort African American students into formerly all white schools. Freedom of Choice schemes were used to circumvent desegregation. New York Times reporter Adam Cohen in his January 18 article "The Supreme Struggle" said "Southern states adopted legal tactics to stall integration, notably "freedom of choice" plans. In theory, freedom of choice allowed blacks to attend any school in a district, but black parents were threatened with losing their jobs and homes – and having crosses burned on their property – if they tried to send their children to white schools."

16 Governor Allan Shivers Opposed Desegregation: “Governor Shivers was a staunch advocate of states rights, and believed that Texas should resist any federal attempts to integrate the public schools. Many white Texans agreed with him, and his mailbag was flooded with letters, many of them unprintable, opposing integration. In 1956, the Mansfield school district near Fort Worth was the first in Texas to be ordered to desegregate. An angry mob prevented three black students from entering the high school. Shivers ordered the Texas Rangers to the town to protect the mob and prevent the students from attending school. The Eisenhower administration, in the middle of a reelection campaign, did not intervene. Shivers' example inspired Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus the next year in his resistance to the desegregation of Central High in Little Rock. In that case, the federal government sent in the Army and enforced the law of the land. In the years that followed, many Texas school districts willingly desegregated, but others held out until 1965, when the federal government threatened to withdraw funds.” DOCUMENT: Levelland constituent V. McMurry urges the governor to continue his fight to maintain segregated schools and to keep the tidelands in state control. SOURCE: V. McMurry to Shivers, January 10, 1955, Records of Allan Shivers, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

17 Desegregating University of North Texas
In December 1955, U.S. District Judge Joe Sheehy issued an injunction prohibiting North Texas from denying admission on the basis of race. Atkins already had enrolled at Texas Western in El Paso, but the door he opened led to the arrival of North Texas' first African American undergraduates and master's students in Irma E.L. Sephas began classes with little notice in February 1956, the same day a screaming, rock-throwing mob threatened Autherine Lucy as she entered the University of Alabama. After three days of violent rioting, the university expelled Lucy, saying it was for her own safety. Determined to prevent similar scenes in Denton, Matthews ordered a virtual news blackout and kept television cameras out of classrooms. He even refused to brag about North Texas' peaceful desegregation. "President Matthews' primary concern was that to point to the fact that nobody was throwing rocks at Sephas was to invite somebody to come and throw rocks at her," said James Rogers in a 1980 oral history interview. Rogers, now a Professor Emeritus of journalism, was university news director when Sephas arrived. Yet, there were ugly incidents, Matthews said. Racial epithets were chalked on sidewalks, but crews were out before classes began to scrub them off. Crosses were burned in front of the administration building and at Matthews' home, but they were extinguished without publicity. The freshman class: That summer saw several more African American students at North Texas, and in Fall 1956, the first group of freshmen enrolled. Among them were two young athletes, Leon King ('62. '72 M.S.) and Abner Haynes ('62), who integrated the North Texas freshman football team 10 years before an African American played in the Southwest Conference. Source: The North Texan Online Above: North Texas students Bettye Morgan ('60), second from left, and from right, Burlyce Sherrill Logan, Floydell Barton Hall ('60) and Barbara Beverly Kincaide ('57) pose with friends on campus in 1956.

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