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On this day In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was decided

May 17, 2025

On this day in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was decided with the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruling that race-based segregation in public schools was unlawful and denied black children equal educational opportunities. The landmark case began as five separate cases drawn from Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and D.C. At the time, 17 states in the U.S. mandated segregation in their schools and 4 states allowed local communities to decide on segregation. ⁠

Supposedly “separate but equal”, these segregated schools in actuality were very unequal. Black students received a smaller fraction of school funding and often lacked basic necessities such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, and even electricity and running water. ⁠

Did you know? Oliver Brown, whose name is forever attached to the case, was a welder, pastor, and World War II veteran. He was one of several parents who alleged violation of the 14th Amendment in school segregation. Because of their involvement in the case, many of the parents (and even other family-members) lost their jobs. Another plaintiff, Reverend Joseph DeLaine of South Carolina, was targeted more severely – his house and church were both burned down and he was forced to take his family away to New York.⁠

Linda Brown Smith, Ethel Louise Belton Brown, Harry Briggs, Jr., and Spottswood Bolling, Jr. [students in the Brown V. Board case] during press conference at Hotel Americana, Al Ravenna (Sun Newspaper), June 9, 1964⁠


May 17, 2025
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