The Courts and the Theory of Education for African Americans
Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon colored children.
-- Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1954
The evolution of education for African Americans is a narrative of their struggle for development in educational opportunity, political, economic and social advancement. Because it was illegal to teach slaves to read, there was no hope that their conditions of life would change any time soon. When the Constitution was adopted slaves were more deeply disappointed by the failure of its framers to take decisive action to end slavery. The only hope African Americans had for development was to take advantage of Reconstruction programs. This chapter is limited to the struggle of African Americans for development. It does not suggest that the struggle of other ethnic groups is not important in the history of the United States. However, no other ethnic group has endured the humiliation of the institution of slavery. Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to trace the major developments of this struggle and to attempt to see the implications that it has had in the education of black Americans. The reaction of white Americans to social and legal action taken by the courts on issues that deeply affected them in terms of African American development will be explained.
When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862, to take effect on January 1, 1863, it was recognized that none of the Confederate States accepted the implied offer of immunity from abolition if they were to lay down their arms." 1 In 1866 the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted to prevent states from depriving any persons of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. A year before, the Thirteenth Amendment had been adopted to abolish slavery. Then, in 1867 the Reconstruction Act