Brown v. Board of Education Anniversary | History in a Nutshell Extra


The Brown v. Board of Education court case is recognized as one of the most crucial court cases in U.S. history.

In 1951, plaintiff Oliver Brown filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas after his daughter, Linda, was denied entry into all-White elementary schools. This court case challenged the legality of "separate but equal" educational facilities which were segregated under Jim Crow laws. Brown v. Board eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that "separate but equal" is unconstitutional, for it violated the "Equal Protection Clause" as outlined in the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, did not specify exactly as to how schools should be integrated, which led to the rise of resistance in southern states.  Four years later, in the case of Cooper v. Aaron, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its Brown v. Board ruling, and explicitly stated that state officials and legislators had no power to nullify its ruling.

Although the Brown v. Board case did not achieve full school desegregation on its own, it was a landmark step in the fight for civil rights in the U.S.