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The Brown v. Board of education case marked the end of racial segregation in American public schools. This ruling was made by the Supreme Court in May 17th 1954 and it is still celebrated to date (Rountree 2006, 144). However, various newspapers reacted to the Supreme Court’s ruling differently (by the time the case was decided in 1954).
Basically, newspapers from the North and the South had different reactions to the decision. From this basis, this study explores the different reactions by the Post Dispatch (from the South) and the Boston Herald (from the North). Comprehensively, we note that from an analysis of the different reactions; newspaper reactions to the Brown case were only a representation of the editors’ opinions and not the regions’.
The Post dispatch is a Southern newspaper originating from St. Louis. Before the Brown V. Board of education ruling, the newspaper had always avoided racial discussions in its publications because the owners had the fear that it was going to cause more controversy than it should (Andrews 2010, 7).
In previous years, the Post dispatch received a lot of praise for its radicalism in advocating for the rights of the minority and therefore it did not come as a surprise that it openly supported the Brown V. Board of education Supreme Court ruling. This reaction is affirmed by Andrews (2010, 7) who notes that:
“Immediately following the first Brown ruling, the City of St. Louis, like many other cities in Border States, reacted calmly, ready to make short term acquiescence and claiming to be poised to make the necessary changes required to comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court”
In the Northern states, most newspapers also supported the Supreme Court ruling but certain newspapers were in opposition. In the Boston Herald for example, it was reported that equality was being redefined by the Supreme Court ruling and the decision was unfair and unjustified in a democratic state (Martin 1998, 199).
In other words, the newspaper editorial was written to imply that the decision was contrary to the norms practiced in America then; and in a deeper sense, it was a contravention of the way people thought, back in the day. This article was published in May 18th 1954.
Both the Post Dispatch and the Boston Herald however agreed on certain major issues regarding the case. For instance, it is important to note that both newspapers only differed in the manner the court’s decision was arrived at, and nothing more.
The Boston Herald and some other Newspapers from the North found fault with the ruling on the basis that the Supreme Court never relied on law but rather on psychological basis (Gitlin 2010, p. 46). However, the two newspapers agreed on the facts surrounding the case, in that, they both correctly presented the history of the case, the underpinning issues and other relevant factors that influenced the judges’ decision. The difference was therefore in the way they reacted to the ruling.
Considering the North overwhelmingly supported the Brown ruling, it is correct to say that the Boston Herald and the Post Dispatch represented divergent views based on the editor’s and author’s thoughts alone. It is therefore incorrect to note that the difference in Newspaper reaction to the Brown V. Board of education case was a representation of the difference in opinion between the Southern states and other states.
Andrews, Leigh. 2010. “Reactions to Brown V. Board of Education”. March 10. Web.
Gitlin, Marty. (2010). Brown V. the Board of Education. Washington: Cheryl Brown Henderson.
Martin, Waldo. 1998. Brown V. Board Of Education: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Rountree, Clarke. 2006. Brown versus Board Of Education at Fifty. New York: Lexington Books.