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U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Brown v Board of Education, 1954

Linda Brown"Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a legal case decided in 1954. In it, the Supreme Court of the United States said that racial segregation, or separating people by race, in public schools was against the law. Segregation went against the rights given to all the people by the Constitution of the United States. The full name of the case is Brown et al v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.

In the case, Oliver Brown, an African American railroad worker in Topeka, Kansas, sued the Topeka Board of Education for not allowing his daughter to attend an all-white school near her home. At that time, many areas of the United States, especially in the South, were racially segregated. In segregated areas, Black and white people went to separate schools, lived in separate neighborhoods, rode in separate parts of buses, and drank from separate drinking fountains.

More than 50 years before the Brown case, in 1896, a Supreme Court decision had permitted separate facilities for Black and white people as long as they were equal in nature. The 1896 decision established what was called the "separate but equal" rule, which later was used to uphold other kinds of segregation. Thurgood Marshall, an African American lawyer, decided to use the Brown case to challenge the "separate but equal" idea.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court declared that separate schools for Black and white students could never be equal. Therefore, segregated schools violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This amendment requires that all citizens be treated equally.

The court’s decision advanced the legal movement to desegregate all of U.S. society. Over the following decades, the federal government and the courts took several actions to force communities to integrate their public schools—that is, to make them more racially mixed. Today, many schools are more integrated than they once were. But other schools remain mostly white or mostly Black."

"Linda Brown" World Book Kids, World Book, 2021. Online image, 

Murphy, Bruce Allen. "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka." World Book Student, World Book, 2021,