Brown V Topeka (1954)

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What Happened?
Linda Brown, a young black girl had to journey 20 blocks to Topeka High school which had poor
conditions while there was a white school down the road with good conditions.
June 1951, Linda's father took the Topeka board of education to state court. The case was
rejected on the grounds of 'Plessy Vs Fergusson' 'separate but equal'.
Supported by the NAACP, Brown took his case to the Supreme Court combining his case with
four others.
17th May 1954 the Supreme Court ruled schools segregation was 'unconstitutional'.
In what ways was this significant?
May 1956, 350 school boards across 9 southern states desegregated without much white
1956-57 300,000 black children attended formerly white schools.
In what ways was this not significant?
The Supreme Court did not give a date for integration so individual states could choose when to
do so.
There was massive opposition.
President Eisenhower refused to support it encouraging southern states to ignore the ruling.
Membership of the KKK increased.
Citizens councils set up in the northern states to ensure segregation remained in place and in
1956 Southern senators signed the Southern Manifesto agreeing to use every means possible to
campaign against desegregation.
300,000 deemed to be very small compared to the 2.4 million black children in the South still
taught in segregated schools



A really clear summary - not loads of detail, but enough to jog the memory

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