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Brown Vs. Board of Education

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A Free and Equal
Public Education
Wasn’t Always Available to Everyone.
Let’s take a journey back to the
1950’s. Sit back, enjoy and learn
about the History of education in the
U.S. with regards to minorities.
1950 and before: was it really that long ago that
education was segregated?
Think about this:
Who was standing next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
when he was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis
Jesse Jackson
He’s not that old, he just had a child out of
Now you know why people are still upset about
the events that took place in the 50’s and 60’s.
For many it is still fresh.
Can You Think of Two People
Who Were Assassinated
Due to Human Rights?
Abraham Lincoln, the Kennedy's,
and Malcolm X to name a few.
Once again, education has not
always been free and available to
everyone. Many many people
had to die in order to provide
minorities as well as the poor the
opportunity to attend equal
So how did school become
integrated instead of
continuing to be segregated?
Most people believe school integration began
with a famous case called “Brown V. Board
of Education Topeka, KS”. However, it
began way before that.
It actually started with a little known but
famous case called “Plessy V. Ferguson”
Plessy v. Ferguson
This case is about a young
black man who was riding
on a train up north. When
the train crossed the Mason
Dixie line, he was told by
the train conductor to move
to the back of the train. He
refused and was removed
from the train. He sued the
train company.
Unfortunately, Plessy
did not win.
The courts believe that as long as the facilities
were equal, people could have separate facilities
based on color. They ruled:
Plessy v. Ferguson
“In 1896 the Supreme Court upheld the lower
courts' decision in the case of Homer Plessy, a
black man from Louisiana, challenged the
constitutionality of segregated railroad coaches,
first in the state courts and then in the U. S.
Supreme Court. The high court upheld the lower
courts noting that since the separate cars provided
equal services, the equal protection clause of the
14th Amendment was not violated. Thus, the
"separate but equal" doctrine became the
constitutional basis for segregation.” Dudley, M. E. Brown v.
Board of Education (1954) . New York: Twenty-First Century Books, 1994.
The scary part is that Plessy did not look black. People
hated black people so much that the law stated that if:
you had at
least 1/16th
black in
you, you
had to
yourself as
It wasn’t until the 50’s that the
case was put to the test again in
the courts.
Brown V. Board of Education, Topeka
Brown V. Board of Education
A little girl wanted to go
to a school that was close
to her house instead of
walking miles away to a
school that was not
adequate. Her father took
the case to court and won.
The judge ruled that
separate was not equal.
On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren read the decision of
the unanimous Court:
"We come then to the question presented: Does
segregation of children in public schools solely on the
basis of race, even though the physical facilities and
other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the
children of the minority group of equal educational
opportunities? We believe that it does...We conclude
that in the field of public education the doctrine of
'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational
facilities are inherently unequal. 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
Dr. Hugh W. Speer, testified
, "...if the colored children are denied the
experience in school of associating with
white children, who represent 90 percent of
our national society in which these colored
children must live, then the colored child's
curriculum is being greatly curtailed. The
Topeka curriculum or any school
curriculum cannot be equal under
``In the field of public education the doctrine of
'separate but equal' has no place..."
Why They Won
Keep in mind, the only
reason they won the
case was that they
based it on human
rights and feelings.
They made the courts
feel empathy for
minority children.
``To separate children
solely because of their
generates a feeling of
inferiority that may
their hearts and minds
in a way unlikely ever
to be undone."
Thurgood Marshall with James Nabrit Jr. and George E.C.
after their victory in the Brown v. Board of Education case
before the Supreme Court, May 17, 1954.
Photograph courtesy of UPI / Corbis-Bettmann
Two Types of Segregation
De Jure Segregation
Based on a state law
The Plessy v. Ferguson
case was an example of
this type of
The law states it is ok
to segregate.
De Facto Segregation
Certain factors
cause segregation
Housing patterns
Which one is still around?
De Facto Segregation
Look at the make up of our
schools, many are dominated
by one ethnic group.
Look at our neighborhoods,
many are dominated by one
ethnic group.
Same with Church
Because of circumstances such
as these, busing began.
Prejudice has been around a long time.
It was common and accepted to separate
minorities from the majority.
It was common to be prejudice
We are all prejudice. (Some against overweight
people others against bikers).
This is a difficult habit to overcome.
Discrimination Can
Get You Fired
No matter what that child looks like or even
smells like, you must teach him/her.
No matter what you think about his older sister
or brother you had last year, that still causes
you nightmares, you still have to treat that child
like everybody else.
Outside of Schools
Restaurants, stores,
etc.. could still
Nor did it give a
specific time for
schools to integrate.
So segregation
continued for a long
time. It is still going
Stereotyping was accepted
Blacks were dumb and criminals.
Listen to our vocabulary about people. We use
the word black as if it is evil. (They are the
black sheep of the family; people blackmail
Whites were smart and land owners (white
collar crime; people are white as snow).
Typical Stereo-types promoted by
the media
Think about what the media does to our mind. If a
person gets in a:
Fight with a black person, they will be shot.
Fight with a Latino Person they will be stabbed.
Fight with an Asian person, some type of
Karate/Kung Fu will take place.
The media adds to our stereotyping of people.
I guess you get in a fight with a white person
and they will sue you?
Went Along
Constitution never made mention about
13th Amendment abolished slavery;
14th Amendment (all persons born or
naturalized in the U.S. have equal rights)
May 17th, 1954 the beginning of the end of
segregation in the schools. (Eisenhower
was the president)
Additional Acts
Bilingual Education
San Antonio Independent School Dis. v.
Rodriguez 411 U.S. 1 (1973)
Facts of the Case
In addition to being funded through a state-funded program,
designed to establish a minimum educational threshold in every
school, Texas public elementary and secondary schools rely on
local property taxes for supplemental revenue. The San Antonio
Independent School District (SAISD), acting on behalf of
students whose families reside in poor districts, challenged this
funding scheme by arguing that it underprivileged such students
because their schools lacked the vast property tax base that other
districts utilized. The reliance on assessable property, SAISD
claimed, caused severe inter-district disparities in per-pupil
Question Presented
Did Texas' public education finance system violate the
Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by failing
to distribute funding equally among its school districts?
No. The Court refused to examine the system with strict
scrutiny since there is no fundamental right to education in
the Constitution and since the system did not
systematically discriminate against all poor people in
Texas. Given the similarities between Texas' system and
those in other states, it was clear to the Court that the
funding scheme was not "so irrational as to be invidiously
discriminatory." Justice Powell argued that on the question
of wealth and education, "the Equal Protection Clause does
not require absolute equality or precisely equal
You Be the judge
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