A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF BROWN
Using Primary Records to
Understand Brown et al. v. Board
of Education of Topeka et al.
KAHLIL G. CHISM
May 17, 2004, marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's milestone decision in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case. Named after Oliver Brown, the first plaintiff listed in the case, Brown v. Board of Education was actually five separate cases, with dozens of plaintiffs, consolidated under a single name, all dealing with racial segregation in public education. The Brown decision was a watershed in U.S. legal and civil rights history because it overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine first articulated in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. 1 By overturning Plessy, the Supreme Court ended America's fiftyeight-year-long practice of legal racial segregation in public schools and paved the way for the integration of America's public school systems. Delivering the unanimous opinion of the Court in Brown, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared, “In in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place.” 2 According to the Court, due to the decision in Plessy, “the plaintiffs and others similarly situated” had been
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Publication information: Book title: The Unfinished Agenda of Brown v. Board of Education. Contributors: James Anderson - Editor, Dara N. Byrne - Editor. Publisher: John Wiley & Sons. Place of publication: Hoboken, NJ. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 7.
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