THE LEGAL LANDSCAPE
If asked whether the Brown decision had a positive or
negative impact on the United States the vast majority of
African Americans, and most people of good will, would
say yes. After all, how can it be a bad thing for the
Supreme Court to eviscerate the pernicious “separate but
Yet there are continuous crosscurrents of Brown
criticism even among opponents of enforced segregation.
Yes, the Court's imprimatur had to be removed from the
doctrine of white racial supremacy. However, almost all of
us have heard of, or experienced, the support and special
attention devoted to black students by black teachers and
administrators in small black schools or historically black
colleges. Additionally, there has been an undercurrent of
intellectual criticism of the reasoning (as opposed to
the result in Brown) as well as a bolder assertion that the
federal courts and other branches of government have
never been fully committed to following through on
the promise of educational equality offered in Brown.
Professor Ogletree brings these crosscurrents to the
surface and finds more merit than some might expect.