In the middle of the 20th century, the American education system, as well as other public spheres, underwent a number of considerable changes based on the ideas of racial equality and order. To authorize the presence of separate schools for white and black citizens, the concept of racial segregation was promoted, meaning the separation of the races in their housing, healthcare, and education opportunities.
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During the period between 1950 and 1954, the problems related to racial segregation continued to grow, and one of the significant outcomes was the court case known as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. It was a turning point in the development of American education as it was the moment when equal protection became available for all children. The evaluation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, attention to the previous and combined cases, and the discussion of the facts, background, and decision determine the quality of this legal research. The importance of Brown v. Board of Education lies in the possibility to prove racial segregation unconstitutional and provide students of any racial status with equal education in the United States.
Facts of the Case
By the time the Brown v. Board of Education case appeared, the question of racial segregation in public schools had been frequently discussed. According to the case, white and Negro segregation based on race rejected the idea of equal protection for black children that were guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). Oliver Brown was the only man among 13 plaintiffs, and his name was chosen to head the roster. His complaint was the impossibility of his daughter, Linda, to visit the nearest public (white) school (seven blocks to their home) but walked six blocks to the bus stop and went one mile every day.
Kansas was not the one state where racial segregation was a problem. Similar lower court cases took place in South Caroline, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, and all of them, except the case of Delaware, ended in defeat. In addition, the families who joined the cases lost their jobs, and their neighbors mistreated them (the house and church were burned). However, despite the existing concerns and misunderstandings, Brown v. Board of Education turned out to be a unanimous decision with the help of which the decision to overturn preceding legal cases and the background was made.
One of the main legal events that preceded Brown v. Board of Education was Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case. Its decision was known for the offered “separate but equal” doctrine in the field of public education (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). As it was mentioned, there was a series of other cases that supported the unconstitutionality of racial separation in schools. For example, Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. or Davis et al. v. Country School Board of Prince Edward County in 1952. In Virginia, not parents but students organized the protest to prove their rights to have free and equal education opportunities.
Only the representatives of the Delaware Court agreed that such discrimination was unlawful. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) led by Thurgood Marshall represented the Browns and other plaintiffs in Kansas. The attorneys underlined that it was not enough to consider the conditions under which the 14th Amendment was made but focus on the fact that public education was developing (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). American society was changed, but the equal protection of the laws failed
Legal Issues in the Case
Millions of people around the globe define Brown v. Board of Education as a landmark court in American history. It involves a very serious issue about the equality of the population, regardless of skin color, origin, or other factors. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and many foreign and local historians and writers organized similar discussions to clarify the international image of the United States. During the court, Marshall was the author of many legal issues, but the most critical aspect was connected to the necessity to separate black and white schools.
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Despite the intention to stay equal, the fact of segregation violated the idea of equal protection and contradicted the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). Other issues included the creation of a decree to set geographical limits for schools and students, a gradual adjustment, and the presence of a special master (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). Finally, it was expected to identify the norms of punishment for those who did not follow the decision of the Brown case.
Relevant Rule of the Case
In any court case, much attention is paid to the identification of a relevant rule of law. The court finds it necessary to use these rules to make a final decision and support the chosen position. In some cases, there could be more than one relevant rule of law. In 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education case was a provocative idea to demonstrate how unfair and prejudiced the treatment of black people in the United States was. The main legal principle applied to this case was the separation of education facilities. This relevant rule was based on racial discrimination as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954).
The point was that society was not able to grasp the true meaning of the Amendment and use its context in real life. It was stated that this document remained inconclusive “as to its intended effect on public education” (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954, p. 489). In the middle of the 1900s, the conditions for black Americans were not easy, and it was important to address the law and prove their rights.
The case under analysis proves that black children were not able to enjoy the equality of their educational opportunities in public schools. As a rule, their admissions were denied, and instead of going to the nearest school and saving time, black students had to walk, use buses or bicycles, and even run to reach their school. The government was confident that they spent enough money and resources to protect the black part of the American population by providing free buses and learning materials. However, despite the fact that certain equality was approached in terms of qualifications, curricula, and the quality of building constructions, the segregation of children questioned the equal protection of the population. The decision to suit the Board of Education was not spontaneous, and the minorities used their personal experiences and the impact of segregation as the main evidence to prove the correctness of their intention to promote equality.
After the hearing and analyzing the situation, the Supreme Court shared its unanimous decision in favor of the plaintiffs, including the Brown family. It was stated that education was one of the most vital functions of the state, and the law had to support its equal access to all children (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). The conditions dictated by the U.S. Constitution were defined as inconclusive, and the approach (separate but equal) determined by Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 was proved as invalid. Although Brown v. Board of Education was not the first and the only case about racial inequality, it was a remarkable step in the creation of a strong and fair education system in the United States. Civil and human rights were re-considered to improve the international image of the country and the desire to struggle for democracy.
In general, transformations in the field of education and social services are hard to control and predict. However, American society is always able to demonstrate the best and the most dignified reactions and attitudes toward people’s attempts to change something. Brown v. Board of Education took place in Topeka, Kansas, but influenced all the states, as well as the whole world. The story of one family, the Browns, turned out to be the story of the nation with its desire to protect their rights and freedoms. Public schools adopted a progressive model to improve their education, including the possibility of students and teachers. One should understand that the chosen case was not the final solution to the problem of racial inequality in America, but it became an important step in eradicating racial segregation in education and society.
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).