Civil Rights and the U.S. Supreme Court
The current presidential election campaigns have brought about a revival of interest in the civil rights movement as people once again re-examine the gains that many endured during those tumultuous times. We recall Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King and the March on Washington, and Malcolm X and the rise of the Black Power movement. Students are again reading such masterpieces as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and To Kill a Mocking Bird as they seek to understand what it must have been like to be an African American in the Civil War era, or one of the minority students during the post-World War II era destined to be one of the first to test the waters that divided White and Colored. In this paper, three landmark Civil Rights cases are reviewed. Specifically, the way each one of the cases affected the educational system on a national level is examined since education equality and racial equality are deeply intertwined, and education equality entails many civil aspects, including class and gender, that go well beyond race.
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)
Plessy v. Ferguson was a major factor in education desegregation, or segregation, as the ruling went. It was the dissenting opinion of Justice Louis Harlan that defines this case.
Before the Civil War, a very small percentage of African Americans were literate. In fact, it was a considered a crime to educate African Americans in most states in the South. Because the Fourteenth Amendment made it illegal for states to deprive African Americans of this right, the southern states had to repeal these laws. The repealed laws were then replaced with laws that required segregated education, which meant that blacks and whites had to be educated separately in different schools, use different textbooks, and have different teachers. These segregation laws extended past the educational realm into almost every aspect of life. Blacks...