In the 1940’s and actually up to 1950’s black people in America were treated as inferior to their white counterparts. African Americans were not allowed to eat in the same restaurants, travel in the same bus or even use same recreational facilities as White Americans.
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All social amenities were divided into two; one group which was always well built and taken care of was for White Americans while the other group which was not so good was reserved for the Black Americans. Not even children were spared in this inhuman act that was meant to push blacks down the social ladder (Pierce, 2010). As a result, there was White elementary schools which were relatively many, well equipped and received larger share of government money.
On the other hand, there were black elementary schools which were far a part, not well equipped and children had to walk long distances. The brown versus board of education case explains the start of the fight for desegregation. It is important to note that I, and probably many others, did not know about these facts and thought that the civil rights war begun with Martin Luther King Jr.
After unsuccessfully trying to enroll their children in the nearby White elementary school in the summer of 1950, Oliver brown and other parents decided that it was time for Black Americans to stand up against this unfair treatment. Oliver went to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which hired lawyers not only for Oliver’s case, but also for other African American children around United States of America.
The law suit was first filed in the state court but Oliver and the other thirteen Parents lost the case. As was decided in the case of Plessey versus Ferguson, the state court held that the treatment was fair provided the school systems were equal (Marsh, 2004). It was the view of the state court that African American children needed to get used to the treatment so that they do not find it rough when they grow up.
Oliver and the others were not satisfied with this decision and on October 1, 1951 with the help of NAACP they filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. The case was joined with other similar cases that were already in the Court and was first heard on December 9, 1952.
In their defense, lawyers representing the board of education argued that many people including some African Americans did not have a problem with the separation (Marsh, 2004). However, Oliver’s lawyers requested for a proof that black children were different from the white ones before being separated. One Supreme Court justice died while the case was still on and this elongated the whole process because the justice had to be replaced.
Finally, on May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court gave a ruling on the brown case. The court held that it was improper to have separate schools for white and black children yet the children were not any different (Pierce, 2010). All the judges voted for this ruling showing how unfair segregation was.
Oliver Brown dared to go and enroll his child in the white elementary school knowing well that he might not succeed. However, his zeal and dedication paid in the end. Though it took many years for some states to implement the court ruling, the case set the ground for civil rights activists to fight for equal treatment
Marsh, C. (2004). Brown V. Board of Education: I want to Go to School. Peachtree: Gallopade International.
Pierce, A. (2010). Brown V. Board of Education EBook. Minneapolis: ABDO.