May 17, 1954 CE: Brown v. Board

May 17, 1954 CE: Brown v. Board

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools in its landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling.


5 - 8


Social Studies, U.S. History

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On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools. Racial segregation meant that in 21 states (and Washington, D.C.), white and African American students had to attend different schools. School segregation was part of a “separate but equal” policy, meaning that the schools were supposed to be separate, but have equal equipment, facilities, and educational support. Oliver Brown did not agree with the “separate but equal” policy. His daughter, Linda, was in the third grade. Linda had to walk eight blocks, and then catch a bus to go to her school in Topeka, Kansas. Another school, for white students, was only seven blocks away from the Browns’ home. Oliver and 12 other parents sued the Topeka school board to allow their children to attend local schools. The case was called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The Brown case lasted about five years. It went from judges in Topeka all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Whatever the Supreme Court decided in Brown would apply to all states and school districts in the United States, not just Topeka. The Supreme Court agreed with Oliver and the other parents. Chief Justice Earl Warren said “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The process of allowing all students, black or white, to attend their local school was called integration. It took about two years after Brown for Topeka to integrate its schools.

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January 24, 2024

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