We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place.
Earl Warren, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 1954
It is not possible to discuss any measure of success that African Americans achieved in political, social, and economic areas of their struggle for development without relating their efforts to educational attainment. But that educational attainment was a reflection of how the courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in some critical cases that came before it. 1 In doing so the Supreme Court defined the parameters of the journey that African Americans launched to the promised land. To understand why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did in these cases, one needs to understand its background. This chapter focuses on the kind of education that African Americans received as a result of the decisions reached by the courts in their effort to secure education as part of their passage to the promised land.
Section III of the U.S. Constitution describes the Supreme Court and its functions as the third branch of the U.S. government. The Constitution goes on to add that judicial power would be extended to courts in all cases, in matters of law and equity, within the framework of the law. Judicial power of the United States would be vested in the Supreme Court and in lower courts as the Congress may from time to time decide to establish. Judges, both of the Supreme Court and lower courts, would