Brown versus Board of Education


The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education was a watershed event in the history of the United States. The landmark ruling had it roots in Topeka, Kansas, in 1951 when, Oliver Brown, an African American minister and welder, called upon the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for legal assistance after the city's school board refused to enroll his daughter in an all-white school. The class action lawsuit, filed by Brown and nearly twenty others, ended in the U.S. District Court's ruling in favor of the Board of Education. Undaunted, Thurgood Marshall, chief council for the NAACP, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Brown v. Board of Education, as well as four similar cases challenging the segregation of public schools in Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware and Washington, D.C. Proceedings for the cases began on December 9, 1952. After several delays and a rehearing in December of 1953, the Supreme Court finally reached a unanimous decision on May 17, 1954, when it ruled that the segregation of public school systems was unconstitutional. The decision, however, failed to address any means for enforcement or provide timetables for states to integrate their schools. In 1955, the Supreme Court issued an additional edict, which instructed states to begin the process of desegregation "with all deliberate speed."

Expand all | Collapse all | Results view

Archival Collections and Reference Resources

Educator Resources