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Changing America One Step At A Time: Brown V. Board Of Education

1993 words - 8 pages

In modern day America, to discriminate against a member of another race seems ludicrous, even primitive . However, up until the middle of the twentieth century, racism was the social norm, and segregation was legally sanctioned by the government. As a result, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the civil rights movement caused this radical change of ideals.The Brown V. Board of Education Supreme Court case provided the initial momentum to start this movement. Brown v. Board of Education positively affected the American public education system and the civil rights movement, while also intensifying the southern resistance against the fight for racial equality in the United States.
America, before Brown V. Board of Education, was very different than the place it is today. In the first half of the twentieth century, laws and court cases that dealt with African American discrimination were all ruled by the “separate but equal” rule established by the previous supreme court case, Plessy V. Ferguson. Determined in 1896, the Plessy V. Ferguson case ruled that segregation was merely a legal distinction between races, and was not meant to destroy equality between whites and blacks. However,the Plessy decision set the precedent that “separate” facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were “equal” (“The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow Laws”). With the criterion set from Plessy V. Ferguson, it was now constitutional for states to enforce white supremacy through legal segregation, known as the Jim Crow Laws. Rigidly enforced in the south, these laws remained in effect up until the 1960’s, when public segregation was officially declared unconstitutional. The chief goal of the Jim Crow Laws was to keep all African Americans in a constant place of inferiority. Whether it be forbidding intermarriage between races, or requiring public institutions to keep their white and black facilities separate, the Jim Crow Laws could impose legal punishments on people for associating with members of another race. As a result, if an African American broke these mandates, punishments such as arrest or lynching at the mercy of a mob often ensued (“Jim Crow Laws”). During this time of repression, there was a growing unrest among the African American community. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or the NAACP, began to gain ground. Principally, the rate of growth in the south was soaring, reaching nearly 400,000 members(“Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise”).
Change was slow to occur in the United States, but in 1954, the Brown V. Board of Education supreme court case would not only change public education in America, but eventually lead to the end of segregation all over the country. Essentially, this case declared segregation in all schools unconstitutional, but also dissolved the legal foundation of the 1896 Plessy V. Ferguson case. Originally lead by two lawyers, Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, the...

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