After Brown: The First 50 Years
In 1947, in Clarendon County, South Carolina, a small group of African American parents sued their local (white) school board alleging a violation of their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They wanted one bus to take their children to the “colored” school, just as the school board provided some 30 buses to white children traveling to their schools. Their efforts culminated on May 17, 1954, in one of the most awaited, significant, and controversial Supreme Court decisions in American history: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
Brown was a pivotal event in the history of civil rights in America and of the United States in the 20th Century. It overturned a system of legal subordination of an entire class of people simply because of their race. The effort of making an America with liberty and justice for allis not, however, complete.
This module looks at what has happened in schools in the first 50 years after Brown and what equal protection means in a society where “separate but equal is inherently unequal.” This module looks briefly at how the law changed and what happened when those changes were challenged. It also presents some of the major interpretations of what Brown has come to mean in the United States today.