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Brown vs. Topeka Board of Educationright

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The Jim Crow Laws were in effect when Linda Brown was but a small child.  This law forced African Americans to drink from separate fountains, use separate restrooms, and eat in separate sections of restaurants.  There weren't to many protests of such things by Blacks until the 1954 decision.

Linda Brown had to walk one mile to Monroe Elementary School for African Americans through a switchyard.  Sumner Elementary for Whites was only seven blocks away.  Monroe Elementary was of broken ceiling tiles, floors, plaster, windows, and heating ducts.  Segregation of white and black children made colored kids in public segregated schools feel inferior, but black schools were not known for inferiority to white schools in Kansas.  Yet there still was the feeling.

So Mr. Brown filed a court case along with other violated African Americans.  They were all put under the case of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education.  The judges ruled that black children are being violated in Topeka schools.  The next day local papers printed headlines of how the end of the lifestyles of Whites was coming.  Reapportionment backers argued that rural districts and special interests over state legislatures living in urban lands had been unfairly diluted. Nine months later, after the court decision, reapportionment suits were filed in thirty-four states.  The Southern states showed strong resistance, but they slowly integrated under federal court orders along with the threats of losing federal funds.

Many followed in the steps of the Brown case.  Many protested, from women to poor people, every type that you can think of.  This court decision not only called for racial balance in the material world but also racial equality in the mind.  It also changed our legal system; some for the good and others just didn't help much.

Even though African Americans started attending white schools, they had separate teams and separate prom courts.  The Little Rock School Board decided to slowly integrate so the students could ease into the Decision smoothly.  They started with nine black students dubbed "The Little Rock Nine."  These nine started attending Central High School. 

Just a few years ago the court standards for racial equality proved to lack in nearly a third of elementary schools in Topeka. With many court decisions like so, they helped form the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

Linda Brown Smith said that in Topeka the civil rights legislation hadn't changed much.  She refilled the suit against the Topeka Board of Education in 1979, claiming African American children were still left out.  Linda had said, "My children weren't...exposed to all races in school, and that is a big part of growing up and preparing for adulthood."  Sadly the truth is that 60% of children still attend segregated schools because their parents chose so.  But the three Acts listed above helped form an African American middle class.  Not only did African Americans attend the same schools as Whites but they could also eat at the same restaurants, stay in the same hotels, live in the same neighborhoods, use the same restrooms, and drink from the same fountains.

Because of the middle class that was formed, high school graduation rates for African Americans soared until they almost equaled those of Whites.  Four-year colleges were attended by more black students than ever before.  People who attended integrated schools tended to attend integrated colleges, get racially mixed jobs, and move into integrated neighborhoods. 

But still, 59.3% of African Americans attend all-black schools in Illinois.  That is the highest rate among the states. Overall in America, one-third of African Americans attend schools where there are more than half the school population is black.  One-third of blacks attend all-black schools.  The Hispanic fractions are even higher.  Desegregation plans are weak.  Federal Judge Robert L. Carter claimed, "More black children are now attending all-black schools or nearly all-black schools than the case before the Brown Decision and the educational offerings available to them still continue to be shamefully unequal.  Our future as a people is at stake."

It proves that forty years after the Brown Decision, the importance of equality is as significant as ever.  Eye color seems to not matter, so why does skin color?  We are all human.  America is unique and successful due to all of our ancestors different origins.  Lets let our great nation's diversity strengthen us, rather than divide us.


Caitlin Alvarez

Rachelle Brown



Dennis Kelly, "Roots of Integration// 'Brown vs. Board of Education' turns 40// Legacy of a Class-action landmark"., USA Today, 02-16-1994, pp 01. 

Shena Crittendon, "Separate and Unequal: 40 years after Brown decision"., Richard Afro-American, 06-14-1995, pp PG.

Written by Ken Gross, reported by Bill Shaw, "Sequel: Linda Brown Reopens Her Landmark Case Against Racism"., People, 12-01-1986, pp 146.

Alvin Peabody, "The Education Of Black America: 40 Years Later 1954 Decision Seen As"., Washington Informer, 05-25-1994, pp PG.

Amanda Caracci, "Brown Details Experience in Landmark Case in South Carolina Speech"., University Wire, 02-19-1999.

Jonathan Yardley, whose e-mail address is yardley@twp.com, "Complications of an Activist Court"., The Washington Post, 02-15-2001, pp C02.

By Brent Whiting, "High Court Revolutionized U.S. This Century"., The Arizona Republic, 12-12-1999, pp A36

Stories by Timothy M. Phelps, "The Legacy of Brown vs. Board Decades after the Supreme Court Barred Separate but Equal Schools, in Topeka and Elsewhere the Battle is Still Being Waged!", Newsday, 05-15-1994, pp A04.

John Hanna, The Fight Continues., Los Angeles Sentinel, 05-19-1994, pp PG

William H. Freivagel; "Of the Post-Dispatch Staff, Black, White and Brown Desegregation Ruling Established A Legal Landmark, Unkept Promises"., St. Louis Post- Dispatch, 05-15-1994, pp 01B

Bill Clinton, "Equal Justice For All"., Washington Informer, 05-25-1994, pp PG

Author Not Available, "Judge Says Schools Still Unequal"., Sacramento Observer, 03-12-1997 ,pp PG

Brown Henderson, Cheryl, "The Legacy of Brown Forty Six Years Later." Washburn Law Journal, September 20, 2000     


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