Plessy Paves The Way For Brown

1865 words - 7 pages

On May 17, 1954, the Warren court unanimously struck down the ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson and ended both the use of “Separate but Equal” and de jure racial segregation of blacks in America. This made Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483 [1954]) one of the most important cases of the civil rights movement as it allowed the African-American community to progress further in their quest to obtain equal rights with other races in America.
Homer Plessy was recruited to board a train by the Citizens Committee to test the Constitutionality of Louisiana’s Separate Car Act. Mr. Plessy , a thirty year old colored shoemaker and resident of Louisiana, boarded a railroad train on June 7th, 1892 that was for white use only. He was asked the leave the car and move to the railroad car designated for colored use, and he subsequently refused stating that he was only 1/8th black. Consequently he was arrested and charged with violating Louisiana’s Separate Car Act of 1890 (”Landmark Supreme Court Cases”). In his case he argued using the Fourteenth Amendment, which, in essence states that “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
In a 7-1 decision, the court ruled in the favor of Ferguson. Associate Justice Henry Brown stated when the verdict was delivered, “If the civil and political rights of both races be equal, one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane” ("OurDocuments.gov"). The case made de jure segregation legal and created systematic segregation under the law. This type of segregation was legal from that point on as the law of the land. Separate but Equal may seem to uphold equality on paper, however, due to the obvious social prejudice; this placed them at a subordinate social plane. This was also seen as being deflected by the court as it did not ban or require segregation and left the matter up to the individual State/district governments.
55 years after that decision, a man by the name of Oliver Brown, with the guidance of the NAACP, decided to go to Sumner Elementary, and talk to the principal to see if there was any way that his daughter could be enrolled in the school at that time. The principal told him that he couldn’t do anything about it and that it was the School Board, not him that was against the integration of the schools.
Linda Brown stated in a 2004 documentary that she didn’t know what was going on at the time [her father was arguing with the principal], and she thought that she was actually going to be able to go to school at Sumner Elementary, the same school her non-black friends attended. She noted that she lived in an integrated neighborhood and that she played with these students at the park and within her neighborhood regularly (“Black/White & Brown: Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka”).
Everyday Linda had to traverse over a mile to her bus stop then ride a...

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