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Plessy V. Ferguson And Brown V. Board Of Education

1885 words - 8 pages

Discrimination has long been prevalent in American society. The constitution itself is written by white-males for the intended purpose of governing white males, yet its application governs "the melting pot;" a plethora of individualistic differences all combined to create America itself. Virtually all others opposite, in any way different from a white male, even by a fraction (three-fifths, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth) of difference, have at one time or the other been discriminated against by white males. But the most egregious acts of discrimination, in their duration and by the sheer multitude of people that have been discriminated against, undoubtedly have been against African Americans. The Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment makes them citizens, but they do not knock down the socially and legally constructed racial barriers, which last until 1954 when they begin to start crumbling away. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Brown v. Board of Education (1954) are both major turning points in their civil rights issues, as well as their history and ramifications. Both have had a lasting significance on American law and politics.The ruling in Brown is directly related to the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Although segregation and discrimination were commonplace during that era, the ruling of Plessy is significant because after the ruling, it becomes condoned by American law. Plessy was virtually a white man, but he was one-eight black, and therefore was viewed as a black man by white America. He had attempted to sit in a train car in a designated "whites only" car, and upon his discovery, he was ordered by railway authorities to sit in a different car, along with people of his own race. Upon his refusal, he was thrown out, and placed in jail. But, this presented Plessy with a chance to challenge the constitutionality of segregation. His case finally made it to the Supreme Court. But instead of his prediction, that the justice would see the unconstitutionality of segregation and discrimination, and make such acts illegal, they created the "separate but equal" doctrine, words the would halt the advancement of African-American civil rights for nearly sixty years. Plessy argued that separate cars, and segregation of blacks from certain avenues of public society violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court found Plessy guilty and Justice Brown spoke for the majority in that the separation of African-Americans "does not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment. This statute, the Separate Car Act of Louisiana (which Plessy was convicted under) implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races...[and] has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races." Furthermore, Brown continues, "the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law" and not "intended to abolish distinctions based on...

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