Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

The ‘ separate but equal’ principle which was affirmed in the Plessy v. Ferguson was rejected in this landmark case,and it helped in creating a legal precedent for the repeal of subsequent racial segregation laws and forever changing the trajectory of racial relations in America.


The underlying issue in this case started in 1951 when the Topeka, Kansas public school system forbade Oliver Brown, a local black homeowner, from enrolling his daughter in the neighborhood elementary school closest to their house, forcing her to take a bus to a segregated black school further away. The Topeka Board of Education was sued in a class action lawsuit in U.S. federal court by the Browns and twelve other local Black families who were in comparable circumstances, claiming that the Board’s segregation policy was illegal.

Eight-year-old Linda Brown’s parents launched a lawsuit against the Board of Education to get Linda admitted to the neighborhood school after she was denied  admission at the neighborhood elementary school and transferred to a non-white primary school 21 blocks away. This was a drastic human right violation and a perfect example of blatant racism prevalent in the US. 


Accordingly, The Court was urged to evaluate whether minority children were denied equal educational opportunities as a result of the evident racial segregation in public schools. They took into account the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and came to the conclusion that racial segregation in public schools had a negative effect on minority pupils because it meant they were less than others. 



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