Word Count: 286In 1896 the Supreme Court had held in Plessy v. Ferguson that racialsegregation was permissible as long as equal facilities were provided forboth races. Although that decision involved only passenger accommodations ona rail road, the principle of “separate but equal” was applied thereafter toall aspects of public life in states with large black populations. of Topeka, Kansas, decided on May 17, 1954, wasone of the most important cases in the history of the U.
S. Supreme Court. Linda Brown had been denied admission to an elementary school in Topekabecause she was black. Brought together under the Brown designation werecompanion cases from South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, all of whichinvolved the same basic question: Does the equal protection clause of the14th Amendment prohibit racial segregation in the public schools?It was not until the late 1940’s that the Court began to insist on equalityof treatment, but it did not squarely face the constitutionality of the”separate but equal” doctrine until it decided the Brown case. In a brief,unanimous opinion delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Court declaredthat: “separate education facilities are inherently unequal” and that racialsegregation violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
In amoving passage, the chief justice argued that separating children in theschools solely on racial grounds “generates a felling of inferiority as totheir status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a wayunlikely to be undone. ” Although the decision did not bring about totalintegration of blacks in the schools, it resulted in efforts by many schoolsystems to remove the imbalance by busing students. The Court’s decision hadfar reaching effects, influencing civil rights legislation and the civilrights movement of the 1960’s.