The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

By James Jackson Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

1
The Southern States

ON MAY 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its opinion in Brown vs. Board of Education.1 By this pronouncement, the Court undertook to put an end to racial separation in public schools.

"We conclude," said Mr. Chief Justice Warren, "that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."

This conclusion of the Court, this holding, had no basis in law; it had none in history. It was based primarily upon what the Court was pleased to term "intangible considerations." To separate Negro children from white children, said the Court, "generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone." Whatever may have been "the extent of psychological knowledge" in 1896, when the Court approved the "separate but equal" doctrine, it now was clear to the Court that racial separation creates a "sense of inferiority [which] affects the motivation of a child to learn." Citing The American Dilemma, by Gunnar Myrdal, as a general authority for its sociological views,

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