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To what Extent was the Case of Brown v Board of Education Ineffective During the Civil Rights Movement?

A: Plan of Investigation. The question that will be investigated is, to what extent was the case of Brown v Board of Education ineffective during the civil rights movement, and what other steps were taken to establish equal rights? Many people believe the Brown v Board of Education spearheaded the civil rights movement and changed things immediately. However, this paper persuades the audience that the civil rights movement was changed by an amalgamation of Supreme Court cases and other legislation.

The argument is accomplished by researching both on the internet and in libraries to find primary and secondary sources to support the thesis statement while also using interviews from important figures in the Civil Rights Movement. The research includes the details of the landmark case, differing opinions on the effectiveness of the case, and other cases that may have been more or as important as Brown v Board of Education, such as Brown v Board of Education II.

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B: Summary of Evidence. Several events that preceded the landmark cases in the 1950s were equally as important and set precedence for the final overturning of Plessy v Ferguson in 1898. In 1938, in Missouri v Canada, Lionel Gaines accomplished the right for blacks to receive in-state education along with whites. However, this case still held that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional. It was not until 1950 in Sweatt v Painter that ruled Plessy v Ferguson unconstitutional and integrated law and graduate schools.

Sweatt v Painter was the landmark case overturning Plessy, and not Brown v Board of Education in 1954, in which Earl Warren overturned separate but equal and integrated all public facilities. No timetable was established in each of the Court cases. The following year, this problem was solved through Brown v Board of Education II, establishing that school systems must abolish racism with “all deliberate speed”. Even so, states did not adhere to the Court’s decision. Following inactivity on the enforcement front, the Court decided Cooper v Aaron, stating that states could not ignore the Court’s decisions.1

Background on Board of Education: The case arose when Linda Brown of Kansas was forced to walk 1 mile through a railroad switchyard to get to a black school. As a result, on October 1, 1951, NAACP led a challenge of segregation. Luck struck when Supreme Court Justice Fred Vinson died of a heart attack in September 1953. Eisenhower replaced him with Earl Warren, an advocate of civil rights.2

Psychologist Hugh Speer testified that the lack of interaction with whites made blacks have an unfair disadvantage. Reviewed studies that revealed black girls grew up in schools with low racial self-esteem. 3 Although the Court was unanimous in claiming that Congress did not mean for integration but did not prohibit it, this led to future conflict between integrationists and separatists.4

Effects: Brown v Board of Education drastically affects society, though not as much as was expected. Firstly, the landmark case did not abolish segregation in public areas such as restaurants. Also, Brown v Board of Education did not give a timeline for integration.

However, this case showed that the Constitution was on the side of racial equality and led to the massive integration movement and other landmark cases. Despite the massive movement, by 1965, “only 2 per cent of black schoolchildren attended integrated schools.”5 Nixon used a Southern Strategy in the 1960s to gain votes from whites who did not want to go to integrated schools, showing the vast amounts of separatists who wished to stay segregated.6

Brown v Board of Education II: The opposition was quelled in Cooper v Aaron. However, more protests ensued from Brown II than Brown because, in Brown II, the case said that states were required to implement integration orders. 7

C: Evaluation of Sources. In “The Journal of Negro Education,” the origin was in 1994, and the book is written by three Kentucky professors, Charles Russo, John Harris III, and Rosetta Sandidge. No other academic credentials are provided. The purpose of this article is stated as “this article briefly discusses more than three dozen of the cases involving court-ordered desegregation decided in the 40 years since 1950. Further, it provides a detailed commentary and analysis of the Court’s leading opinions.”

This source provides insight into the aftereffects of Brown v Board and the testimonials of the citizens at the time. Also, the author provides valuable commentary with regards to the lack of integration steps taken by the states. However, a limitation of the book is the bias the authors have in denouncing Brown v Board of Education. All of the authors share the same viewpoint and only provide commentary and statistics supporting their claims. The omission of facts shows a bias towards their thesis of Brown v Board of Education’s ineffective results. As a result, it limits the perspective of their views and the audience’s view on the partiality of the source.

In “The Aftermath of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka: Stride toward freedom,” the authors, Jim Ruderman and Bill Fauver’s origins are not specified, only that the piece is written for The National Center for History in Schools. The book’s purpose is to inform the readers that “the Brown decision certainly undermined Plessy but did not specifically declare “separate but equal” unconstitutional in all its applications.”

This book provides new insight and a new observation that brings new evidence to light and a new point of view on a controversial topic, shown when the authors’ say, “Technically it was this case, Gayle v. Browder, and not the heralded Brown decision, that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson.” A limitation of the article is the biases of the two authors wanting to sell their books and the intended audience. The text is directed less as a scholarly piece and more as education for high school students. The elementary language contributes to the audience’s negative view about the accuracy of the research.

D: Analysis. The basis of Brown v Board of Education II as a solution was outlined in the ruling, “Racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional, and all provisions of federal or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this principle.”8 When Jim Ruderman and Bill Fauver claim that “still, 50 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling, African Americans are still proportionately underrepresented in these institutions,” they seek to show that the landmark case of Brown v Board of Education did not solve the civil rights crisis.9

They claim that African Americans must begin from the top by giving incentive programs to black students in colleges to bring an equal representation. Differing from Ruderman and Fauver, the interview with John Hope Franklin describes people’s sentiment after Brown v Board of Education shows the disappointment people felt weeks and months following the verdict. John Hope Franklin was an NAACP member as well as a colleague of Thurgood Marshall. His important testimony gives insight into the effects of the Brown v Board of Education case in that it was not entirely ineffective.10

Many claims that the decision “overshadows the well-established fact that racial disparities in school resources in the South began narrowing 20 years before the Brown decision.”11 Thurgood Marshall became the 1st black Supreme Court Justice; the NAACP gained in strength. People began to believe in an equal society. Although mainly symbolic to the legislation for equality, the Brown case overturned the devastating Plessy v Ferguson case that had previously quelled black sentiment. When Hugh Speer testified about the psychological effects segregation has on black children, not only the case at hand but also the entire civil rights movement turned on its head.

His argument was used for the next twenty years in passing more equality legislation. While other authors claim that the civil rights movement was solved by cases post-Brown era, William Collins argues that the significant shift began before Brown. Using Missouri v Canada and Sweatt v Painter as evidence, he claims that those cases did more than Brown did. While still being practical, Collins states that Brown v Board of Education was not the symbolic case it was perceived as. Instead, like all other authors in my evidence pool, he believed that it was a combination of factors that contributed to equal rights—consequently, the decrease in the effectiveness of Brown v Board of Education.

The authors of The Journal for Negro Education bring up the point of the 9-0 unanimity. They claim that the unanimous decision wrongly led the nation into believing that Brown had solved the crisis. Instead, years later, the citizens realized that, despite the unanimous decision, still many were against equality for blacks. As a result, they claim that “Still, 50 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling, African Americans are still proportionately underrepresented in these institutions.”12

The Leadership Conference Education Fund, on the other hand, believed that the civil rights movement was helped. In turn, the ineffectiveness of Brown was caused by the Latino movement that was happening before the Brown case. With Meyer v Nebraska, Court struck down a ban on foreign language instruction and consequently led to the success of the black movement in the 1950s. Thus, while all of the authors believe that Brown v Board of Education was a landmark case, some believe that it was less effective than public opinion.

From those who believe it was less effective, different interpretations led to the argument about what caused the ineffectiveness of Brown v Board of Education. Some interpretations theorize that it was simply the lack of enthusiasm from the federal government to enforce it, and others state that the ineffectiveness is a result of simply the hate of the separatists and the Southern governments.

E:Conclusion: While the landmark case of Brown v Board of Education was thought of as the turning point of the civil rights movement, the case was ineffective in the attempt to force state governments to implement the law. Due to the lack of timetables set and the unwillingness of the federal government to take action, Brown v Board of Education did little to solve the equality crisis.

No one court case did solve the movement, despite the impact in attitudes towards civil rights after Brown v Board of Education; however, with the revised Brown v Board of Education II as well as a combination of other cases and movements both before and after the 1950s, the goal was achieved with the passing Civil Rights Act of 1964 under Lyndon Baines Johnson.

F: Sources and Word Limit. Print

  • “Brown v Board of Education of Topeka.” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2011. http://www.ecasebriefs.com/blog/law/constitutional-law/constitutional-law-keyed-to-cohen/the-equal-protection-clause-and-the-review-of-the-reasonableness-of-legislation/brown-v-board-of-education-of-topeka-2/.
  • “Brown v Board of Education 2.” National Center N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2011. http://www.nationalcenter.org/cc0725.htm.
  • Collins, William. “Evaluating the role of Brown v Board of Education.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2011 http://aler.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/2/213.abstract.
  • Cozzens, Lisa. “Brown v Board of Education.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 1998. Web. 6 April 2011. http://www.watson.rg/~Lisa/blackhistory/early-civilrights/brown.html.
  • Fauver, Bill and Jim Ruderman.” The Aftermath of Brown v Brown of Education of Topeka.” Stride Toward Freedom. National Center for History in the Schools, n.d. Web. 6 Apr 2011. http://www.learner.org/course/amerhistory/pdf/Brown-v-Bard_L-One.pdf.
  • “Kenneth B. Clark.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 12 May 2011.
  • “Key Supreme Court Cases in Civil Rights Movement.” Leadership Conference. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund, 2011.Web 6 April 2011. http://www.civilrights.org/judiciary/supreme-court/key-cases.html.
  • Leahy, Mary. “School Desegregation and Prejudice in the United States.” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2011. http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1988/1/88.01.03.x.html
  • McBride, Alex.” Brown v Board of Education.” Landmark Cases. Educational Broadcasting Company. 2007.Web.6 Apr 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/Supremecourt/rights/landmark_brown.html.
  • Oelsner, Leslie. “GOAL of Integration in Schools elusive; New York City’s Situation shows reality is more segregation The Dream and Reality of Integration in New York Schools ‘A Pattern of Segregation” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2011.
  • http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10716F63F581A718DDDA90A94D9415B878BF1D3
  • Sunstein, Cass. Did Brown Matter? New Yorker, 03 05 2004. Web. 6 Apr 2011. http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?critics/040503crbo_books.
  • “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow Laws.” PBS. Web. 12 May 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/media_players/a_brown.html
  • Wormser, Richard. “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.” PBS. (1954): Print.

Non-print

  • Journal of Social Issues, Vol 60, No 1, pg 1-15
  • Law and Society Review, Vol 29, No four p731-756
  • The Journal of Negro Education Vol 73, No 3 Special Issue: Brown v Board of Education at 50 p 328-340
  • The Journal of Negro Education, Vol 73, No 3, Special Issue: Brown v Board of Education at 50, 191-208
  • The Journal of Negro Education, Vol 73, No 3, Special Issue: Brown v Board of Education at 50, 341-349
  • The Sage of Freedom: An interview with John Hope Franklin The Public Historian Vol 29, No 2 (35-54)
  1. “Key Supreme Court Cases in Civil Rights Movement.” Leadership Conference. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund, 2011.Web 6 April 2011. http://www.civilrights.org/judiciary/supreme-court/key-cases.html.
  2. Sunstein, Cass. Did Brown Matter? New Yorker, 03 05 2004. Web. 6 Apr 2011. http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?critics/040503crbo_books.
  3. Cozzens, Lisa. “Brown v Board of Education.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 1998. Web. 6 April 2011. http://www.watson.rg/~Lisa/blackhistory/early-civilrights/brown.html.
  4. McBride, Alex.” Brown v Board of Education.” Landmark Cases. Educational Broadcasting Company. 2007.Web.6 Apr 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/Supremecourt/rights/landmark_brown.html.
  5. McBride, Alex.” Brown v Board of Education.” Landmark Cases. Educational Broadcasting Company. 2007.Web.6 Apr 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/Supremecourt/rights/landmark_brown.html.
  6. The Journal of Negro Education, Vol 73, No 3, Special Issue: Brown v Board of Education at 50, 191-208
  7. McBride, Alex.” Brown v Board of Education.” Landmark Cases. Educational Broadcasting Company. 2007.Web.6 Apr 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/Supremecourt/rights/landmark_brown.html.
  8. “Brown v Board of Education 2.” National Center N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2011. http://www.nationalcenter.org/cc0725.htm.
  9. Fauver, Bill and Jim Ruderman.” The Aftermath of Brown v Brown of Education of Topeka.” Stride Toward Freedom. National Center for History in the Schools, n.d. Web. 6 Apr 2011. http://www.learner.org/course/amerhistory/pdf/Brown-v-Bard_L-One.pdf.
  10. The Sage of Freedom: An interview with John Hope Franklin The Public Historian Vol 29, No 2 (35-54)
  11. Collins, William. “Evaluating the role of Brown v Board of Education.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2011 http://aler.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/2/213.abstract.
  12. The Journal of Negro Education Vol 73, No 3 Special Issue: Brown v Board of Education at 50 p 328-340

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To what Extent was the Case of Brown v Board of Education Ineffective During the Civil Rights Movement?. (2021, Sep 24). Retrieved October 23, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/to-what-extent-was-the-case-of-brown-v-board-of-education-ineffective-during-the-civil-rights-movement/