Separate And Unequal: Overcoming Segregation In America

4076 words - 16 pages

At the time of the African-American Civil Rights movement, segregation was abundant in all aspects of life. Separation, it seemed, was the new motto for all of America. But change was coming. In order to create a nation of true equality, segregation had to be eradicated throughout all of America. Although most people tend to think that it was only well-known, and popular figureheads such as Martin Luther King Junior or Rosa Parks, who were the sole launchers of the African-American Civil Rights movement, it is the rights and responsibilities involved in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which have most greatly impacted the world we live in today, based upon how desegregation and busing plans have affected our public school systems and way of life, as well as the lives of countless African-Americans around America. The Brown v. Board of Education decision offered African-Americans a path away from common stereotypes and racism, by empowering many of the people of the United States to take action against conformity and discrimination throughout the movement.
Segregation restricted the types of opportunities for members of different racial or ethnic groups to intermingle among themselves. Blacks and whites attended separate schools. Especially in the South, school segregation had been supported de jure (concerning law) for generations. Even when the white schools were closer to their residences, black children were often forced to attend the nearest all-black school. Whereas, in the North segregation was more commonly de facto (concerning fact), and the children attended their neighborhood school, which was in most cases only attended by the race that presided more dominantly in that neighborhood. “If children go to school where they live and if most neighborhoods are racially segregated, then the schools are necessarily segregated, too (Kenneth B. Clark).” The problem arose when the public complained that the black schools were in dilapidated conditions, offering poor education, inferior to that of the education the whites were receiving in the nearby all-white schools.
In the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), a man named Homer Plessy who was seven-eighths Caucasian, and only one-eighth African-American was arrested and found guilty of boarding a whites-only passenger coach car, instead of the “colored car”, bringing about a new mandate of “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites in all aspects of life. Previous to Plessy boarding the whites-only car, he had in fact, been persuaded to purposely get arrested in an effort to repeal the Separate Car Act of 1890, a plan of which did not receive the desired results. Justice John Harlan was the only one of the eight presiding judges in the court, who wrote a dissenting opinion. The mandate later became known as the “Jim Crow” doctrine, named after a black character in minstrel shows. This gave rise to the new era of Jim Crow laws...

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