- I can summarize the context for the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.
- I can make predictions based on historical evidence.
|segregation||Legal separating groups of people based on race.|
|litigation||The process of taking legal action in the court system.|
|integrate||To de-segregate or end the policy of legally separating groups of people based on race.|
Directions: Complete the short reading and answer the following questions.
After the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed to grant citizenship to
former enslaved people and protect them from civil rights violations in their home states.
Beginning in 1877, many states passed “Jim Crow” laws requiring segregation in public
places. In 1896, the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson ruled there was nothing
inherently unequal — nor anything unconstitutional — about separate accommodations for
races. Public schools were relatively rare throughout the United States, but were often
segregated by race where those existed.
In the twentieth century, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP) began a litigation campaign designed to bring an end to state-mandated
segregation, calling attention to the shabby accommodations provided for Black Americans,
as well as arguing the damaging psychological effects that segregation had on Black school
children. One case was brought on behalf of Linda Brown, a third-grader from Topeka,
Kansas. Several additional school segregation cases were combined into one, known as
Brown v. Board of Education. This case reached the Supreme Court in 1953.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the court ruled that segregation violated the
Fourteenth Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional, reversing its ruling in Plessy v.
Ferguson. The court also urged that public schools be integrated with “all deliberate speed.”
The Brown decision was a landmark in the fight for equal rights for African-Americans, but
the work to desegregate schools was far from over. The Supreme Court cannot write or
enforce laws. Local legislative bodies must write laws and the executive must enforce them.
Reading Comprehension Questions
- Summarize this information in your own words. Try to use no more than two sentences.
2. Write two questions you have about the information you read above.
3. Based on the information you read above, what conclusions can you draw about how an individual (Eckford) might act after this Brown v. Board of Education ruling? What do you expect to see in her story?
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Brown v. Board of Education | BRI’s Homework Help Series
Brown v. Board of Education was a case brought to the Supreme Court in 1954 after Linda Brown, an African American student in Kansas, was denied access to the white-only schools nearby her house. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was the lawyer for the case, and argued that segregated schools were inherently unequal. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Linda Brown and declared segregation unconstitutional. This is one of the landmark cases that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
Elizabeth Eckford, the Little Rock Nine, and Purpose
In this lesson, students will learn about Elizabeth Eckford and the sense of purpose that drove the Little Rock Nine. They will explore how the perseverance of Eckford and the other minority students helped advance freedom and equality as well as learn how dedication to their own purposes also benefits society.
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By the end of this section, you will explain how and why the civil rights movements developed and expanded from 1945 to 1960.
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A document-based question which explores Dwight D. Eisenhower's response to the Little Rock Crisis. This lesson asks students to asses President Eisenhower's constitutional justification for his decision to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce a federal court's order to integrate public schools.
Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis
The Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), with its declaration that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, overturned decades of precedent and challenged deeply-held social traditions. Southern resistance to the decision was widespread. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was not enthusiastic about federal judicial intervention in public education, but he carried out his constitutional responsibility to enforce the law by implementing desegregation in the District of Columbia. Not all state governments were quick to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to integrate “with all deliberate speed” and many fought against it openly. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered his state’s National Guard to block the entry of nine newly-enrolled African American students to Central High School in Little Rock. A violent mob gathered in front of the school, and city police failed to control it. Finally, when asked for assistance by the Mayor of Little Rock, President Eisenhower believed his constitutional duty to take care that the laws were faithfully executed left him no choice but to intervene, even to the point of using military force against American citizens.